Marijuana possession-related arrests in New York City under current Mayor Bill de Blasio are on track to equal or possibly surpass the number of arrests under previous Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a recent report confirmed. De Blasio had spoken out against arrests for low-level pot possession, especially since the numbers show a significant racial gap.
The report includes in-depth analysis of marijuana arrests and their relation to income, showing that low- and middle-class minority communities face significantly higher rates of arrests related to marijuana possession than do white neighborhoods of every income group. A majority of arrests are of young males of color, though studies have shown that young white men use the drug more often. Almost 75 percent of citizens arrested for the possession of marijuana this year have never been convicted of a misdemeanor, and only 11 percent of those arrested have been charged with a misdemeanor crime.
Under current Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD made slightly more marijuana-related arrests from March through August 2014 than during the same time frame in 2013. During the first eight months of this year, 86 percent of those apprehended for marijuana possession were black and Latino, while only 10 percent were white.
The report also noted that the New York City Police Department arrests blacks at seven times the rate of whites and Latinos. Most of those arrested were young – 29 percent were teenagers and 56 percent were under 26. Most of these people are not criminals; they are often high school students, college students and young workers.
During de Blasio’s mayoral campaign last year, he spoke of the “disastrous consequences” that low-level marijuana possessions arrests have on individuals and families.
“These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs,” de Blasio said. “What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low level possession. This policy is unjust and wrong.”
However, racially inequities in marijuana-related arrests continued in 2014, with white and wealthier neighborhoods facing much lower rates of arrests.
The Upper East Side of Manhattan has one of the lowest arrest rates in New York City. Its residents are 90 percent white and the median family income is $110,000 there. The two neighborhoods with the highest arrest rates in NYC are Washington Heights and East Harlem North, both in Manhattan.