NYPD Uses One Million Police Hours for Marijuana Arrests In Single Decade

NYPD Uses One Million Police Hours for Marijuana Arrests In Single Decade

March 22, 2013 By Elizabeth
There is little hiding the fact that the New York Police Department likes enforcing marijuana laws—even the little ones. But a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance indicates just how pronounced the NYPD’s affinity for marijuana enforcement really is.
The report, detailed in a DPA press release, found that the NYPD dedicated over one million man hours from 2002 to 2012 in marijuana arrests. These hours were tied to 440,000 possession arrests. This isn’t large busts of marijuana growers, distributors or dealers, but users—marijuana smokers.
The Alliance also estimates that those arrestees spent 5 million hours in police custody over the same 11-year period. These arrests are costing the city more than $75 million each and every year.
“This report shows that people arrested for marijuana possession spend an average of 12-18 hours, just in police custody, and the vast majority of those arrested are young Black and Latino men from seven to ten neighborhoods in NYC,” said Chino Hardin with the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions. “This is not just a crisis, but a frontline civil rights issue facing urban communities of color in the 21st century. We are calling on Governor Cuomo to do the right thing, and exercise the moral and political will to address this injustice.”
The majority of those arrested are young and of racial minorities. As a matter of fact, over 85% are black and Latino, despite whites using marijuana at higher rates than either of these racial groups.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed changes to how cops in the city will handle marijuana arrests, but the Drug Policy Alliance says it isn’t enough, that lawmakers must get involved. After all, they say, there have been more marijuana possession arrests under Bloomberg than under Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani combined.
Fighting the War on Drugs is futile. Fighting a war against marijuana users is simply silly, and dramatically costly.
“For years, New Yorkers from across the state have organized and marched and rallied, demanding an end to these outrageous arrests. And now we learn that the police have squandered one million hours to make racially biased, costly, and unlawful marijuana possession arrests. This is scandalous,” said New York State Director of the organization, Gabriel Sayegh.
The group’s report, One Million Police Hours, is being shared with lawmakers as they discuss how to fix the decriminalization of marijuana, something that happened in 1977 but has failed because of policies of the NYPD.

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