Crime statistics from the FBI show that more than 620,000 Americans were arrested in 2014 for possession of marijuana.
That works out to nearly 1,700 arrests every day — more than one every minute. New York City spent more than $75 million in 2010 to arrest and incarcerate individuals just for possessing marijuana, mostly small amounts, according to a 2011 report by the Drug Policy Alliance.
Citing the 2012 findings of a Human Rights Watch document, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo points outs in his State of the State book this year that about 90 percent of these people had no subsequent felonies. He believes it’s time for New York to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.
“The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York state, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety. The unnecessary arrest of these individuals can have devastating economic and social effects on their lives. Individuals can miss work, be fired, establish a record that prevents them from finding work in the future and spend time in jail awaiting trial if they are unable to post bail,” according to Mr. Cuomo’s State of the State book. “Continuing the governor’s commitment to reduce the number of nonviolent individuals who become needlessly entangled in the criminal justice system, Gov. Cuomo will advance legislation amending the state’s marijuana drug laws by removing the criminal penalties that too often result in the over-prosecution and jailing of nonviolent individuals. This measure reflects the national trend and dramatic shift in public opinion. Whereas other states have sought the full legalization of marijuana, this legislative change will specifically affect individual users and not reduce penalties on those who illegally supply and sell marijuana.”