Permission to smoke cannabis in public leads to drop in arrests in NY
The data published by the New York Police show that the number of marijuana-related arrests and summons fell in New York City in the first quarter since the state's legalization law took effect.
While it is not surprising to see the number of arrests decrease after legalization, the drop has been much larger than that seen in other jurisdictions that have ended the ban on cannabis and this is probably related to a unique aspect of New York's marijuana law that allows smoking in public.
Arrests for “criminal” cannabis possession fell from 163 in the first quarter of 2021 to just eight in the last quarter. Under legalization, adults 21 and older can possess up to 85 grams of marijuana, so these arrests are for possession of more than the legal limit.
Cannabis-related subpoenas, meanwhile, fell from 3687 in the first quarter to just eight in April, May and June. Six involved illegal possession of marijuana and two related to illegal sale. The state has yet to launch the retail sale of recreational cannabis, which creates a barrier to access.
Compare these figures with those of Chicago. In the first year after the Illinois legalization law came into effect and retail opened in 2020, nearly 3000 marijuana-related arrests continued, targeting disproportionately black people.
And while most of these arrests relate to possession of more than the legal limit or illegal sales, one factor likely contributed to the sharp decline in arrests and summons in New York is that, unlike d n other states where cannabis is permitted, public use of marijuana is legal in all places where tobacco use is permitted.
After legalization of cannabis in ColoradoDenver saw a significant reduction in arrests for possession, from 1548 in 2014 to 351 in 2016. At the same time, arrests for public consumption soared from 8 to 891 in the same period, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. .
A Washington Post analysis of marijuana-related arrest data in Washington found that possession cases in the nation's capital fell about 50% after legalization. Yet global cannabis arrests have continued, largely due to the lack of a legal sales model and the continued criminalization of public consumption.
From 2015 to 2019, the post-legalization era, district police made 3631 cannabis-related arrests. There were 900 for public consumption alone. And again, the racial disparities in these cases remained significant despite the intention of the policy change.
All this to say that, in New York City, the new law and its specific protections for public consumption appear to achieve one of the main objectives of the reform in due time.
The fact that after the governor of the time, Andrew Cuomo, has signed Legalization Law, New York City Police sent a memo to officers to inform them of new marijuana policies and explain to them what they can and can't stop.
And while retail is not expected to begin in the state until next year, new Governor Kathy Hochul, who replaced Cuomo last week after his resignation over a sexual harassment scandal, is prioritizing implementation of legalization.
Her office recently said she is committed to filling regulatory positions in the cannabis market quickly. Ms Hochul's predecessor has been criticized for the stalemate in negotiations with lawmakers over potential appointments, and the new governor is now taking the helm and discussing with leaders how to move the process forward.
The fact that regulators New Jersey neighbor recently published rules for its adult-use marijuana program, which is being implemented after voters approved a referendum on legalization last year, adding to the pressure to get the market up and running.
Last month, a New York senator introduced a bill to create an interim license category for marijuana so that farmers can start growing and selling cannabis before the adult program officially launches. The bill has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee.
The State Comptroller recently predicted that New York could generate $ 245 million in annual revenue from marijuana.
For the first year of cannabis sales, the state is expected to collect just $ 20 million in taxes and fees. This will be part of the $ 26,7 billion in new revenue that New York is expected to generate in fiscal year 2021-2022, according to the budget passed by the legislature in April.
"The legalization of cannabis will create more than 60 new jobs, stimulate economic activity of $ 000 billion and generate tax revenues estimated at $ 3,5 million when fully implemented," the office said. the former governor in January.
Meanwhile, a New York lawmaker introduced a bill in June that would oblige the state to create an institute to study the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.