From Arrests to Summonses for Marijuana Possession in NYC

PROP Statement Regarding the de Blasio Administration’s Proposed Changes in the NYPD’s Response to Marijuana Possession Infractions

PROP welcomes the de Blasio announcement if only because it signals that the Mayor is feeling political pressure to reform biased and unfair police practices. Here are PROP’s principal concerns regarding the critical question of whether this reform will lead to actual on the ground changes in the NYPD’s “broken windows” policing approach that currently focuses on low-level infractions and targets low-income people of color for arrests and summonses.

  • If the NYPD does scale back the practice of marijuana possession arrests, will it still apply the “broken windows” theory of policing in ways that inflict harm and hardship on low-income communities of color?
  • Will the increase in the use of marijuana possession summonses still be marked by a stark racial bias?
  • Will the NYPD stop illegally searching people in carrying out the new policy?

In conclusion, recent history taught us that the NYPD was able to reduce the use of a notorious and discredited practice, stop and frisk, and still not change its basic harmful and counterproductive form of “broken windows” policing. PROP’s strong view is that the only way to eliminate abusive policing tactics regarding this issue is to pass laws that would effectively end marijuana prohibition and that would set up a system to regulate its sale and use.


Robert Gangi
PROP Director


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