Bill Bratton, Bill de Blasio
Photo: NYPD Press Conference

Most of Us Blaze, But the NYPD Usually Arrests People of Color For It

The NYPD has a history of digging into people’s ass to find weed, but a new study released today that was conducted by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project offers some statistical insight into just who the NYPD has been arresting weed possession.

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, almost 86 percent of marijuana arrests are of Black and Latino New Yorkers. Despite that figure, according to research, people of color and white people smoke about the same amount. Even with the city’s claim that the NYPD was going to not focus on weed enforcement, weed arrests in the city have been up for several years now. This new study reinforces that trend and offers the details about just who the NYPD is targeting.

Here were some other findings of the study, as summarized by Drug Policy Alliance, who worked with Marijuana Arrest Research Project:

  • In the first three years of the de Blasio administration, the NYPD made over 60,000 criminal arrests for the lowest-level marijuana possession offense, an average of 20,000 marijuana arrests a year.
  • The NYPD’s marijuana arrests under de Blasio suffer from the same overwhelming racial disparities as under Bloomberg – about 86% of the arrests for marijuana possession are of Blacks and Latinos.
  • As in previous years, in 2016 and in the first four months of 2017, 81% of the people arrested for marijuana were age 16 to 34, 58% were 16 to 25 and 27% were age 16 to 20.
  • Residents of New York City’s public housing developments constitute the single largest group of people arrested. In 2016, NYPD housing police made 21% of the city’s total of 18,121 arrests for marijuana possession and 92% of those arrested were Blacks and Latinos.
  • Of New York City’s 76 neighborhood police precincts, 37 neighborhoods have a majority of Black and Latino residents. They have about half the city’s population but provide 66% of the marijuana possession arrests and 92% of the people arrested are Blacks and Latinos.
  • Police in New York also target neighborhoods in midtown and lower Manhattan with active nightlife. Although pedestrians in those areas are predominately white, police arrest Blacks and Latinos at very high rates.
  • In 2016, in Greenwich Village, 69% of the people arrested for marijuana possession were Blacks and Latinos. In Chelsea, 77% were Blacks and Latinos. In Soho-Tribeca-Wall St. 73% were Blacks and Latinos. In tourist-heavy Little Italy and Chinatown, 66% of the people arrested for marijuana possession were Blacks and Latinos.
  • In 2016, police enforcement targeted people of color, especially Blacks, everywhere in New York City. In Manhattan, Blacks are 13% of the residents but 45% of the people arrested for marijuana possession. In Queens, Blacks are 18% of the residents but 49% of the people arrested for marijuana. And in Staten Island, Blacks are 10% of the residents but 49% of the people arrested for marijuana possession.
  • The rates of NYPD arrests for marijuana possession per 100,000 of the population are extremely skewed. In Queens, police arrest Blacks at seven times the rate of whites. In Manhattan they arrest Blacks at 10 times the rate of whites. And in Staten Island the NYPD arrests Blacks at 15 times the rate of whites.

Meanwhile, under three thousand miles away on the opposite side of our same country, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval had to declare a state of emergency because all the recreational weed is gone, five days after it was legalized.

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