In New York, possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana is now a “civil” infraction – resulting in just a fine. But “displaying” or using marijuana in public is still a misdemeanor – a criminal offense which can result in arrest and jail time.
It was widely reported that New York cops – trying to keep their arrest numbers up – were stopping people, ordering them to empty their pockets, then arresting them for “displaying” marijuana in public. Nice trick, while it worked (and completely illegal).
After almost 45,000 of such arrests, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, under pressure, finally ordered the practice ended. The result: the Associated Press is reporting that New York City is seeing a 13% drop in total arrests in just 8 weeks.
Marijuana arrests are the bread and butter of police departments nationwide. 50,000 annually in New York. 4,000 in D.C. Cops love them. Easy to detect (the smell), non-violent, and good for a day’s overtime at court. Where pot has been decriminalized, cops have to detect and arrest real criminals. Hard work, but in the end worth it.