Starting on September 1, a new marijuana enforcement policy will go into effect in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced on Tuesday (6/19) that the NYPD will issue summonses rather than arrest most New Yorkers caught smoking weed in public. Exceptions, as CBS reports, would include people on parole or probation, those with existing criminal warrants or a recent documented history of violence, people without identification, and those whose smoking constitutes a public safety risk, like people smoking behind the wheel of a car.
De Blasio called for the change in policy in May as part of taking steps towards the likely eventual legalization of marijuana in the city, and in reaction to data around the arrest rates of people of color for marijuana charges in white vs minority neighborhoods. He says he expects to reduce arrests by 10,000 per year as a result.
Meanwhile, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker says a report recommending the legalization of marijuana in the state is nearing completion. As AM New York reports:
“We realized that the pros outweigh the cons and the report recommends a regulated, legal marijuana program be available to adults in the state of New York,” Zucker said at a news conference in Brooklyn.
If the governor backs the report’s recommendation, it would complete an extraordinary shift for the Democrat. It also would put him on the same page as Cynthia Nixon, the actress and activist who is challenging Cuomo for the Democratic nomination from the political left. And it would align New York with a growing number of states that have legalized marijuana.