Dear Senate President Dean Skelos and members of the NY State Legislature,
I’m writing to demand that you put an immediate end to New York's unlawful, discriminatory, and costly marijuana arrests by passing the bi-partisan reform legislation S.5187/A.7620. If passed, this proposal would eliminate the false justification police are using for marijuana arrests, making public and private possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation similar to a traffic ticket and would not lead to arrest.
These arrests are racially biased and target young people. Almost 70% of those arrested are 16 – 29 years old. Nearly 85% of all those arrested are Black and Latino — even though government studies of high school seniors show Whites use marijuana at higher rates.
Many, if not most, of these arrests are the result of illegal frisks and illegal searches, or outright false charging by the police. The charges associated with these arrests create a criminal record that can stay with someone for the rest of their life, severely limiting their opportunities. The push for marijuana arrests affects not only those arrested, but entire communities who must endure invasive, illegal searches, and harassment from police every day.
These arrests are also astoundingly expensive. In 2010 alone, marijuana possession arrests cost NYC taxpayers $75 million. This money would be better spent on many other important priorities for the city and the state.
I urge you to end the practice of illegal frisks and searches, and stop the push for marijuana arrests.