In a historic change, NYPD officers on Nov. 19 will stop arresting people on low-level marijuana charges and issue them tickets instead, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Monday.
People caught smoking on the street would still wind up in the pokey, however, but someone caught with less than 25 grams of marijuana would be slapped with a noncriminal violation. “As for those who want to avoid summonses, don’t do it; it’s that simple,” Bratton said at a press conference at NYPD headquarters, holding up a baggie of oregano as a visual aid. “It’s still against the law. I’m not giving out get-out-of-jail-for-free cards.”
If found guilty, a first-time violator would face a fine of $100; for a second offense, a fine of $250 could apply, a high-ranking police source told the Daily News.
Mayor de Blasio, who made curtailing the NYPD’s use of the stop-and-frisk tactic a central campaign pledge, said the new policy would be more fair. “Too many New Yorkers without any prior convictions have been arrested for low-level marijuana possession,” he said. “Blacks and Latino communities have been disproportionately affected.”