While New York’s governor and lawmakers continue to discuss and work towards decriminalizing the public display of marijuana, which would stop tens of thousands of annual arrests, police in New York City have begun a concerted effort to reduce the amount of focus and resources they place on marijuana arrests – even among those dealing pounds worth.
According to statistics from the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, marijuana arrests this year are down roughly 20% from 2012. 2012 saw a 22% decrease from the year before.
Based on these statistics, marijuana arrests in New York City are projected at around 32,500 for 2013. In 2011, that number was over 52,000.
In addition to a reduction in these arrests, there has also been a reduction in dealer arrests. According to the New York Post, “One source said some NYPD detectives have been told to back off dealers because they’re considered a lower priority than those hawking pills, cocaine and heroin. “When we have intel on pretty big marijuana cases, we’re being pushed away,” said the source, who works on narcotics cases. “It’s. ‘Let’s just focus on pills and cocaine.'”
Because of this shift, only 3 dealers apprehended with more than 10 pounds have been arrested this year, compared to 28 by the same time in 2012. The amount of confiscated marijuana in the city is also down drastically, from 2,500 kilos in 2010, to just 61 so far this year.
Although the issue with NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy won’t be fully resolved until public display is decriminalized, and pointless marijuana arrests won’t cease until its legalized, it’s a promising and significant sign of the changing times, that police are beginning to focus away from arresting those with marijuana.