It has been years of harassment and criminalization for many African American communities as it relates to cannabis enforcement in the city of New York. Many families have been negatively affected by it Mothers have been raising kids singlehandedly because dads have been incarcerated for small amounts of weed.
There is some positive moves being made to decriminalize weed in New York and as of August 28, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law, the decriminalization of marijuana. Many of the communities are still skeptical about this new cannabis enforcement outreach.
It is a fact that the African American communities have disproportionately bore the brunt of strict cannabis enforcement over the years with harsh penalties coming from the government. Many have suffered unfair consequences where they were being given long prison sentences for being caught with a joint. Now the city of New York wants to take a new path where many of those people who were incarcerated could have their records expunged. This is said to be instrumental in reducing the many number of penalties already in the system. It is a crucial step to addressing the criminal justice discrimination process of the past.
African American communities faced serious consequences for having a small portion of weed in their possession and subsequently were arrested and facing the threat of harsh charges and a bad criminal record. Now, the city of New York is trying to do reciprocity in the form of different cannabis enforcement to fix the problem. So, even though, marijuana is not yet legalized in the city of New York, people who have been caught with possessing weed will receive a fine and not be considered criminals. That is a far cry from what would happen decades ago.
Patrol officers had to use their discretion as to how they would handle a specific case of cannabis enforcement. However, if someone does receive a court summons, then there may be an arrest warrant if failure to show up in court is the outcome. Another thing that the police are concerned about is when people try to use marijuana publicly. That is a blatant offence of the law and would require cannabis enforcement. In comparison to the cannabis policies in the past, the discretion being considered may seem endearing to the public.
Within a Decade
Ten years ago, possessing a small amount of weed found in your bag or pocket was never a crime in the city of New York. And yet, more than fifty thousand people were arrested for marijuana possession; most of whom were minorities namely, Latino and African Americans. The city spent more than seventy five million each year to arrest one in seven people like this. Most Caucasians who were found with the same amount of weed did not receive such harsh sentences. It is a fact.
As we move forward to another decade, and despite all of this history, the right cannabis enforcement is still not there yet. The city is now focused on engineering a Cannabis Equity program in communities that are over-policed. This is so that community members can get equal share of the equity of making sure their communities are producing jobs for those whose criminal records have or are going to be expunged. This will create re-entry programs for these participants so they can make the transition back into the community at large.
Cannabis Enforcement Moves In NYC has been big news in New York. New York City and their government are planning on also inserting the ideal language into cannabis enforcement and taking some of the ideas from other states. These include the state of Illinois that automatically expunges. Massachusetts has prioritized licensing for those individuals who have been previously incarcerated. The state of California has zoning areas that deals with over policing and the war on drugs. So, it will be a reckoning of how cannabis enforcement will be handled by New York City Police Department. Stay tuned!