Just as the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is deciding to end the prosecution of the purchase and possession of small marijuana, a similar policy was implemented in New York City last week.
Following the recent announcement of a plan beginning September 1 to issue summonses instead of arresting people for marijuana offenses, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has revealed that, As of August 1, they are longer prosecuting marijuana possession or smoking cases.
“Our research has found virtually no public safety rationale for the ongoing arrest and prosecution of marijuana smoking,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in a statement. “And no moral justification for the intolerable racial disparities that underlie enforcement.”
Exceptions to the new policy will include people who are under investigation for severe or violent crimes or pose a threat to public safety.
The DA’s Office expects that the new policies will result in a reduction of thousands of arrests annually.
“Every day I ask our prosecutors to keep Manhattan safe and make our justice system more equal and fair,” Vance said. “The needless criminalization of pot smoking frustrates this core mission, so we are removing ourselves from the equation.”
According to the July 29 press release, due to the District Attorney’s new policy and the decriminalization of cannabis in other states, the DA’s Office has been working with criminal justice stakeholders and public defense organizations to seal past marijuana convictions en masse sometime in Fall 2018.