De Blasio announces NYPD will no longer arrest people for smoking weed in public

De Blasio announces NYPD will no longer arrest people for smoking weed in public
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Tuesday announced that beginning later this year, city police will stop arresting people for smoking marijuana in public.

De Blasio said that the overhaul to marijuana policy, which has been expected for weeks, will lead to as many as 10,000 fewer arrests in the next year.

De Blasio and New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced the new policy.

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The move does not make it legal to smoke marijuana in public, but the mayor said that police will issue criminal summonses, the same punishment for possessing a small amount of marijuana, instead of arresting people caught smoking pot in public.

“We know there is a bigger discussion happening across the nation and at the state level on legalization of marijuana,” de Blasio said in a tweet. “But until that debate is resolved, we're doing what we can to make our city safer and fairer for all New Yorkers.”

People with prior arrests, as well as parolees, drivers, those without ID and some other exemptions, may still be arrested.

Critics have said that the city’s previous marijuana policies unfairly targeted minorities. Studies have shown a significant racial disparity in marijuana arrests that do not align with marijuana usage rates.

Brooklyn and Manhattan district attorneys also announced earlier this year that they are working to end prosecution of marijuana charges.