WNYC, the local public radio station for America’s biggest metropolis, trained their microphones on the police practices concerning marijuana arrests. NYC has the dubious distinction of having the greatest number of marijuana arrests for any locality – it surpasses many whole states. Still, the urban police practice of targeting young, African-American marijuana consumers is not isolated to the Big Apple. Similar racial disparities exist in Philadelphia and likely in most other large cities.
Dr. Harry Levine with the Drug Policy Alliance issued a detailed report about the NYC arrests in March that has spurred increased attention to the issue. $75 Million a Year: The Cost of New York City’s Marijuana Possession Arrests
The WNYC audio is embedded below but the full text story is also essential reading.
[This is the first story in a two-part series. Read the second part here.]
Police arrest 140 people every day in New York City for possessing small amounts of marijuana. It’s now by far the most common misdemeanor charge in the city, and thousands of these arrests take place when police stop-and-frisk young men in the poorest neighborhoods. While police say these stop-and-frisks are a way to find guns, what they find more often is a bag of marijuana.
An investigation by WNYC suggests that some police officers may be violating people’s constitutional rights when they are making marijuana arrests. Current and former cops, defense lawyers and more than a dozen men arrested for the lowest-level marijuana possession say illegal searches take place during stop-and-frisks, which are street encounters carried out overwhelmingly on blacks and Latinos. READ FULL STORY