NYPD to issue summonses, not arrests, for pot

Dried marijuana (DEA)

The New York Police Department will issue criminal summonses to most people caught smoking marijuana in public instead of arresting them starting Sept. 1.

Officers will still arrest people with prior arrests for violent crimes, parolees, drivers and some others under the policy Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced on Tuesday.

People with summonses will have to go to court and pay a $100 fine.

Manhattan's district attorney had already announced that his office will stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana cases on Aug. 1.

The state's top health official said Monday that a report on marijuana will recommend legalization./

Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year this week, suggesting it'll be 2019 at the earliest before the issue is considered.

De Blasio called for the policy change after a 30-day task force reviewed the plan in May.

Data shows that most arrests for marijuana crimes occur in predominantly minority neighborhoods despite studies that show people of all races use the drug with equal frequency

According to the NY Daily News, the circumstances under which someone can still be arrested are as follows:

  • Has a misdemeanor or felony warrant
  • Is on parole or probation
  • Is categorized as a violent offender
  • If police can’t verify their identity or their address
  • If the person is in the driver’s seat of a car
  • If the office can offer a “legitimate law enforcement exception.”

With the Associated Press