City Spent $75 Million On Marijuana Possession Arrests, Report Says
By Della Hasselle
March 17, 2011 3:07pm
The report is based on the average cost per arrest, which the DPA estimates is between $1,500 and $2,000 in New York City. In 2010, there were 50,300 misdemeanor marijuana arrests, the report says.
According to estimates by the DPA, that means that taxpayers shelled out a total of anywhere between $75,450,000 and $100,600,000 for minor pot busts.
Out of those numbers, the DPA says 87 percent of arrested are people of color, even though government studies show that most marijuana users are white.
The report also emphasizes that it is a misdmeanor, not a more serious felony, for possession of amounts under 25 grams in the State of New York, as passed into law by the Marijuana Reform Act of 1977.
“The legislature finds that arrests, criminal prosecutions, and criminal penalties are inappropriate for people who possess small quantities of marijuana for personal use,” the report reads, quoting the legislative intent introduction to the Marijuana Reform Act. “Every year, this process needlessly scars thousands of lives and wastes millions of dollars in law enforcement resources, while detracting from the prosecution of serious crimes.”
At a recent hearing with Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, however, police commissioner Ray Kelly defended the city’s actions, the New York Daily News reported.
“If you think the law is not written correctly, then you should petition the state Legislature to change it,” Kelly said. “The law clearly says if you have marijuana in public view, you should be arrested. It’s a misdemeanor.”