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New York aims to reduce marijuana prosecutions

On May 15, it was announced that the New York Police Department intended to use the next few months to reform its cannabis enforcement policies. This announcement, made by the New York City mayor, came after decades of marijuana arrests and incarcerations that have had major impacts on many lives, particularly when it comes to people of color.

A district attorney for the Manhattan district, which is the largest New York City borough, said that effective August 1st, authorities will no longer file charges in cases involving marijuana possession or marijuana smoking. However, the city is allowed to recommend exceptions that may be made to the policy before that time as long as they are grounded in public safety concerns.

Ultimately, authorities in the Manhattan district hope to reduce marijuana prosecutions from 5,000 to about 200 each year. By reducing the number of marijuana prosecutions, it was hoped that the targeting of black and Hispanic New York residents would be reduced. Residents of color are also already more likely to spend longer amounts of time in jail than white residents.

Other northeast states have already begun the process of decriminalizing marijuana. With this announcement, New York appears to be following suit. Although authorities may no longer be mainly focusing on marijuana, other drug crimes may still be heavily prosecuted. A criminal law attorney may defend an accused person against illegal search and seizures and review the case to determine what defense strategies may work depending on the evidence the authorities have against the accused person. In some cases, this may involve attempting to have certain evidence thrown out or utilizing cross-examination techniques to challenge the charges brought against the accused person.

Source: Forbes, "New York May Finally Address Its Cannabis-Arrest Catastrophe", Janet Burns, 05/15/2018

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