New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced Tuesday that the New York Police Department plans to “overhaul” its policies on marijuana enforcement in the coming weeks as part of an effort to limit arrests.
“The NYPD will overhaul and reform its policies related to marijuana enforcement in the next 30 days,” de Blasio said during a speech at a Center for American Progress policy conference in Washington, D.C.
“We must and we will end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement,” he added.
I’m announcing today that the NYPD will overhaul its marijuana enforcement policies in the next 30 days. We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 15, 2018
De Blasio did not provide specifics Tuesday about how marijuana enforcement would change, though his comments marked a departure from his past defense of marijuana arrest tactics used during his administration, The New York Times noted.
In the past, de Blasio has deferred to the state’s marijuana laws, which prohibit its use, while saying that he did not support legalizing the drug.
New York City’s police commissioner, James O’Neill, had hinted Monday that he was concerned about the number of people arrested on marijuana charges who had no previous criminal record, the Times reported.
O’Neill noted that 36 percent of people arrested on marijuana charges in 2017 had no previous criminal record.
The mayor’s comments Tuesday come as district attorneys in Brooklyn and Manhattan work to stop prosecuting most people arrests on marijuana charges, according to the newspaper.
A recent report from the Times showed that minorities in New York City were more likely to be arrested on low-level marijuana charges.
A senior police official had told the newspaper that this was because black and Hispanic neighbors were more likely to complain about marijuana, but the Times found that, among neighborhoods that had a similar number of complaints, police still made more arrests in areas with more minority residents.