New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton holds up a bag of oregano to demonstrate what 25 grams of marijuana looks like at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce changes to New York’s marijuana policy on November 10, 2014 in New York City. (Spencer Platt, Getty Images)
NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of people carrying small amounts of marijuana may no longer be arrested or face criminal charges, city officials announced Monday, marking a significant shift in how the nation’s biggest city approaches policing pot.
Instead of being arrested on misdemeanor charges that carry potential punishments of up to three months in jail, many people will get court summonses and face non-criminal violations punishable by fines starting at $100, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton said.
While state law makes it a misdemeanor to have up to 25 grams – about a sandwich bag – of marijuana in “public view,” the mayor characterized stopping such arrests as an enforcement choice. He said it would give police officers time to pursue more serious crime and spare people from the consequences of arrest records for cases that often end up getting dismissed.