Despite Drop After Criticism Spurs NYPD Order, Pot Arrests Still Top 50K In 2011 [View all]
By Associated Press,
NEW YORK — New York City police still arrested more than 50,000 people on low-level marijuana charges last year despite a drop off after officers were told not to use tactics that critics decry as tricking people into getting arrested, according to New York state data obtained by an advocacy group.
In fact, 2011 arrests for the lowest-ranking marijuana misdemeanor rose slightly, from about 50,400 to 50,700, the New York Division of Criminal Justice figures show. The Drug Policy Alliance, a group critical of the national war on drugs, obtained the statistics and provided them Wednesday to The Associated Press.
The continued slew of pot arrests came as the drug policy group and some elected officials trained attention on the low-level marijuana charges that account for more arrests in the city than any other crime. Almost 35 years after state lawmakers raised the bar for booking people instead of ticketing them on marijuana-possession charges, these arrests account for about one in every seven cases in the city’s criminal courts.
The arrests have soared in the last 10 years. With the 2011 numbers, the New York Police Department has made more than 227,000 bottom-rung marijuana possession arrests in the last five years — slightly more than the entire span from 1978 to 2001, according to an analysis by Queens College sociologist Harry Levine.