Marijuana possession and smoking in Manhattan will no longer result in prosecution. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced the new policy on July 31. However, there are exceptions to this new policy. People may face prosecution in cases where marijuana is being sold or where it poses a significant threat to public safety.
Through the enforcement of this new policy, marijuana prosecutions could be reduced in the Manhattan borough by 96 percent. Vance said that research done by the district attorney’s office found no link between the public’s safety and the use of marijuana. Due to these previous arrests, there was an overwhelming amount of minorities being arrested to endure weed prosecution. Vance said that this was not helping to protect the community or to create a more equal justice system.
New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill on Tuesday announced a working group will take the next 30 days to look at the enforcement measures by the department. O’Neill has advised New York Police Department officers to not make arrests relating to marijuana unless they are impacting public safety.
Previously, those who were arrested for marijuana possession in Manhattan had to undergo court proceedings. Not only does this negatively affect the lives of those convicted, it produces high costs for the legal system. Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I drug and considered to be illegal. However, certain states have decriminalized marijuana, making it a violation and not a crime to possess small amounts of it.
While Vance hopes to legalize marijuana in the future for recreational use, it is not yet decided. Recreational use of marijuana is only legal in a few states, such as Colorado, Washington and California. Penalties for being charged with marijuana possession typically resulted in a fine of $100 for first-time offenders who were caught with up to 25 grams of marijuana. An additional offense of possession up to 25 grams within three years was punishable by a fine of $200. A third or subsequent offense within a three-year period was punishable by a $250 fine or possible jail time up to 15 days.
If you have been charged with a marijuana offense and are confused with the current conditions, contact us for legal counsel. We can explain the laws and how best to follow them. We want to help you in understanding the consequences that can arise.
If you are in need of experienced legal counsel for a criminal defense matter on Long Island or throughout New York State, please contact Grunwald & Seman, P.C. to schedule a consultation and we would be happy to assist you.