New York’s mayor to overhaul NYPD policing on marijuana to end discrimination

Bill de Blasio said: “We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.” (File image via AP)
Bill de Blasio said: “We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.” (File image via AP)

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday vowed to “overhaul” NYPD’s marijuana enforcement policies in the next 30 days in an apparent response to a New York Times finding published Sunday.

The daily’s finding showed the glaring disparity between blacks and whites in terms of incarceration rates over low-level marijuana charges in the Big Apple.

In its report, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white.

In Manhattan, where the gap is the worst, black people were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people.

In his tweet, de Blasio said: “We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.”

Cynthia Nixon, marijuana and race

The huge gap between blacks and whites over marijuana is one of the main issue actress Cynthia Nixon, who is running for the Governor of New York, is tackling.

Last week, Nixon said black communities should be given the first option for licenses within the marijuana market after legalization.

“Now that cannabis is exploding as an industry, we have to make sure that those communities that have been harmed and devastated by marijuana arrests get the first shot at this industry,” she said.

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Cynthia Nixon says it is time to legalize marijuana in New York. (File image via Getty)

The Democrat also said that creating a legalized marijuana industry could serve as a form of reparations in black communities; a remark that got her into hot water.

Manhattan Democratic Party Chairman Keith Wright, a former long-time state assemblyman from Harlem, said Nixon’s comment “is ill-informed, lacks understanding of the greatest crime in history, and should cease and desist.”

“Reparation is a repayment for the free labor that built this country,” said Wright, a former state Democratic party chairman under Gov. Cuomo, the New York Daily News reported. 

“Ms. Nixon should relegate her comments to legalization, pro or con,” he said. “I believe social equity should be a part of licenses to sell marijuana, if and when legalization does occur. However, it is insulting to my soul, that the free labor that my ancestors gave to this country would be equated with the selling of marijuana.”

The group, Black Lives Matter of Greater NY, also criticized her comments as “offensive and ignorant.”

“It does a disservice to our community for her to play into harmful stereotypes of African-Americans as drug users and dealers,” the group said in a statement. “And it does an even greater disservice to the enduring consequences of both slavery and Jim Crow and the inequities these systems of oppression perpetuated to claim that legalizing marijuana would somehow erase that experience.”

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