As drug arrests and marijuana busts decline in New York, residents are looking forward to the day pot is legal in the Empire State.
In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that his top priorities in 2013 would include the decriminalization of marijuana possession and eliminating the charge of fifth-degree possession (smoking or holding pot in public, or possession of more than 25 grams). A month later, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that NYPD officers would ticket lowest-level offenders rather than arrest them.
Recent arrest statistics are bolstering marijuana advocates’ hopes that decriminalization is on the way. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, just 210 kilos of pot were seized in New York State in 2012, down from 2,500 kilos in 2010. In the Big Apple, marijuana arrests declined last year by a whopping 22 percent – down to 40,661 from 52,220 in 2011. According to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, pot arrests are expected to plummet another 20 percent in 2013. Marijuana growers and purveyors can breathe a little easier as well – so far this year just three people have been charged with first-degree criminal charges (for having 10 pounds of pot or more), down from 28 charges in 2012.
99.2 percent of all marijuana arrests in New York are charged as fifth-degree possession. Governor Cuomo’s pledge to eradicate the charge, although not yet signed into law, is already affecting pot smokers’ lives for the better. The next step? Legalize it!