(UPI) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week told the NYPD not to arrest people for smoking marijuana in public and instead give them a summons.
The policy will be part of a 30-day review of the racial disparity in marijuana arrests, the New York Daily News reported.
It is also part of a process to better understand how to deal with marijuana legalization from a law enforcement perspective. Although de Blasio has not come out in support of marijuana legalization for recreational use, he believes it will eventually be a law-abiding way to imbibe.
“With marijuana legalization likely to occur in our state in the near future, it is critical our city plans for the public safety, health and financial consequences involved,” de Blasio said in a statement. “While I still have real concerns we must work through, it isn’t difficult to see where this is headed, and any responsible policymaker must prepare for that eventuality. My focus now will be helping to craft the critical regulatory framework that must come before legalization is realized.”
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Phil Walzak told CNN that the department is reviewing the mayor’s request and could begin the policy towards the end of summer.
“The working group is reviewing possession and public smoking of marijuana to ensure enforcement is consistent with the values of fairness and trust, while also promoting public safety and addressing community concerns,” Walzak said.
Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wanted his state to lay down the groundwork for marijuana legalization for similar reasons to de Blasio’s — he thinks legalization is inevitable, too.
“You have states that have legalized it now…It is no longer a question of legal or illegal. It’s legal in Massachusetts. It may be legal in New Jersey. Which means for all intents and purposes it’s going to be here anyway,” Cuomo said.
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