Impact of Marijuana Enforcement in Policing & Criminal Justice

Since 1996, there have been more than 800,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana in New York State, with over 700,000 arrests by the NYPD alone.

More than 80 percent of all those arrested statewide were Black and Latino, even though young white people use marijuana at higher rates than young Black and Latino people.

This massive increase of New Yorkers involved with the criminal justice system has had significant reverberations. A marijuana arrest creates a permanent criminal record that can easily be found by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks. Marijuana enforcement also has profound impacts on New York’s plea bargaining, bail, and parole and probation systems.

This public discussion will examine the long-term costs and consequences of unequal enforcement of marijuana prohibition in New York and solutions to address the harms caused within the criminal justice and policing realms.

Potential speakers include:
• Professor Harry Levine, Queens College
• Scott Hechinger, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Policy, Brooklyn Defender Services
• Professor Steve Zeidman, Faculty Director, CUNY School of Law
• Communities United for Police Reform representative
• VOCAL-NY representative