NYPD's Pot Possession Crusade Continues Under de Blasio

The NYPD: when they're not stopping and frisking black and Latino people just being black or Latino, they're arresting black and Latino people for possession of a plant that was supposedly decriminalized decades ago. This was all supposed to change when Bill de Blasio took office.

New York City's new mayor campaigned on reducing arrests for small amounts of cannabis, pointing out the "clear racial bias" in the city's pot bust numbers and arguing, correctly, that low-level possession arrests "have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families."

Half a year into his mayoralty, not much has changed. A report published by the Drug Policy Alliance shows that in de Blasio's first four months, possession arrest numbers were about the same as they were throughout 2013, Bloomberg's last year in office.

NYPD's Pot Possession Crusade Continues Under de Blasio

In 2013, 86 percent of pot busts were of black and Latino people. In 2014 so far, that number hasn't changed. Before opening their mouths, the racists in the audience should note that black and white people smoke weed in about equal numbers.

This is all particularly irksome considering that New York state passed a law in 1977 that made first-time possession offenses of less than 25 grams punishable only by a $100 fine, as long as the weed isn't in public view. Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who has pledged to stop prosecuting possession cases, is the only New York City official who seems interested in complying with it.

The NYPD skirts this legal annoyance with stop-and-frisk: if you're carrying a joint and a cop asks you to empty your pockets, complying means taking pot that was once private and making it public — and therefore punishable by arrest. When the stop-and-frisk numbers are so overwhelmingly racially skewed, it only follows that possession arrests would be, too.

Maybe we should have seen this all coming when the mayor named his police commissioner: Bill Bratton, who helped architect stop-and-frisk in New York when he led the department under Rudy Giuliani.

It's still early, and there's plenty of time for de Blasio to correct his path. But with Bratton running the NYPD, it's unclear whether he even wants to.

[Image via AP]