Brooklyn’s marijuana policy may get a decrim update if Ken Thompson is elected district attorney in the upcoming election. Thompson has said that as DA, he would order his prosecutors to drop nearly all cases involving 15 grams of pot or less, and issue non-criminal fines for offenders.
12,732 people were arrested last year in Brooklyn for possessing small amounts of marijuana; a 2013 study by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that Brooklyn leads the country in marijuana arrests. Former federal prosecutor Thompson says the pot arrests are “clogging the criminal justice system,” and that resources currently used to prosecute low-level marijuana offenses would be better used to address serious crimes.
He also pointed out the racial disparity of arrests made: the NYCLU study found blacks in Brooklyn are nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for pot possession.
The New York State Assembly passed a bill in June that would have essentially decriminalized possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana. Public smoking would still be treated as a misdemeanor. However, the bill stalled when the state Senate adjourned without putting the measure to a vote.
Thompson said, “I'm going to treat possession of small amounts of marijuana as violations, the way the governor is calling for. If the [state] Senate Republicans are not willing to pass that law, then I don't think the people of Brooklyn can wait."
The general election is on Nov. 5, 2013.