A Little Pot is Trouble in NYC: 50k Busts a Year
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A Little Pot is Trouble in NYC: 50k Busts a Year
Posted by CN Staff on November 05, 2011 at 13:52:33 PT
By Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz, AP
Source: Associated Press 
New York -- As the nation's biggest city deals with threats of terrorism and a variety of violent crimes, carrying a little bit of marijuana is still a big deal.There are more arrests for low-level pot possession in New York City — about 50,000 a year — than any other crime, accounting for about one of every seven cases that turn up in criminal courts.
It's a phenomenon that has persisted despite more leniency toward marijuana use — the state loosened its marijuana-possession laws more than 30 years.Critics say the deluge has been driven in part by the New York Police Department's strategy of stopping people and frisking those whom police say meet crime suspects' descriptions. More than a half a million people, mostly black and Hispanic men, were stopped last year — unfair targets, critics say. About 10 percent of stops result in arrests.The department says that the strategy's main goal is to take guns off the street and prevent crime, and that the tactic is a life-saving tool. But critics say officers looking for guns in pockets more often find pot and — though state law says the drug is supposed to be in open view to warrant an arrest — lock up the possessor anyway.In response, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly recently reminded officers they can't make arrests for small amounts of pot in people's pockets or bags — and can't trigger an arrest by searching people or telling them to empty their pockets."No one has showed me any evidence that this is how a large number of arrests are being made," he said. "But the allegation was made. So, in order to clear up any confusion that may exist, we put that order out to make certain that officers know that they cannot be the reason for someone displaying (marijuana) publicly."Kelly said the vast majority of pot arrests come from undercover officers who witness hand-to-hand drug transactions or people smoking pot in public. And, the department says, as low-level arrests have risen, violent crime has decreased dramatically.But many New Yorkers, mostly black and Hispanic men, say they're being targeted in the name of keeping the city safe.Bronx community organizer Alfredo Carrasquillo, 27, estimated he's been arrested on marijuana possession charges more than 20 times, starting when he was 14 and police ordered him to empty out his pockets outside his high school. He says he was arrested, but was never was found smoking the drug or holding it out in the open — though a 1977 state law says those with 25 grams of the drug or less in their pockets or bags should only be ticketed. Legally, it's a violation that doesn't result in a criminal record."We weren't stupid enough to smoke it in the middle of the day," he said.Gabriel Sayegh, the New York director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group critical of the national war on drugs, said the department benefits from the arrests."Every year, they're bringing 50,000 people into their system," he said. "A significant portion of whom have not been arrested before.Even if the cases ultimately get dismissed, as most first-time marijuana-possession arrests do, police net names, fingerprints and other information for law-enforcement databases, he noted.New York's lowest-level marijuana-possession charge — criminal possession of marijuana in the 5th degree, a misdemeanor — has been the most common arrest charge in the city for much of the past decade, and the numbers have been steadily rising. So far this year there have been 38,359 reported arrests. Last year, there were 50,377 arrests citywide, up from 46,492 in 2009, according to statistics from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. That represents about 616 arrests per 100,000 city residents.Police officials say the studies done by the New York-based Drug Policy alliance others are flawed, and also ignore the context of what has been happening in the city as these arrests continue to rise. Overall, they cite significant decreases in murder and major crimes — the last decade has seen the four lowest annual murder totals since at least 1962."Drug use advocates ignored both the very high incidents of violent crime when low-level offenses were enforced far less vigorously than today, and the steep decrease in violence crime that occurred when less serious offenses, like marijuana, were consistently addressed," said Paul Browne, the department's chief spokesman.Comparing different cities' arrest data is difficult because drug laws and data-keeping differ. In Chicago, possessing even 2.5 grams of marijuana is a crime that warrants arrest, and possessing up to an ounce is considered a misdemeanor. Chicago logged 22,291 arrests on that and other misdemeanor marijuana possession charges in 2009 and 22,764 last year, or about 826 arrests per 100,000 people, according to data from the Chicago Police Department provided to The Associated Press.Earlier this week, a Chicago politician proposed to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a summary offense, like a parking ticket, with a potential $200 fine, rather than a misdemeanor that carries possible jail time.Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy didn't endorse the ordinance but has signaled he's open to it."With minor possession, it would be in everybody's interests to free up officers," said department spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton.In California, possession of up to an ounce of marijuana was a misdemeanor until last Jan. 1; now it's a non-criminal infraction. The City of Los Angeles had 3,465 such arrests in 2010 and 4,714 in 2009 — about 90 arrests per 100,000 residents, according to data from its police department.In New York, two state lawmakers have proposed a similar measure: to make possession of less than 25 grams — 7/8 of an ounce — a violation, whether it's in the open or not.It's difficult to put a price tag on the city's arrests. They add to already-busy arraignment court dockets; many cases are put on track to be dismissed quickly. Others take longer to resolve, sometimes because defendants have prior criminal records.A report done earlier this year for the Drug Policy Alliance concluded it cost an estimated $75 million in 2010 to process, jail and prosecute the low-level arrests in New York. That figure was a compilation of estimated court costs, police manpower and jail time, averaging about $1,500 per arrest — a cost shared by the state and city. The city budget alone is $65 billion.The arrests can carry a heavy personal cost. An arrest alone can prompt a child-welfare inquiry, jeopardize job licenses and turn up in a background check.Chino Hardin, 31, has been busted on marijuana charges more times than she can remember, most recently in 2003.For each arrest, she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession and was released, sometimes with a community-service sentence, Hardin said."At the time, I didn't really have a good grasp of the laws around possession of marijuana," she said, and after hours in custody, "all I wanted to do was just get out and go home."She now has a job at a juvenile-justice group that entails telling teens about their rights in a police stop.Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz, The Associated PressPublished: November 5, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Associated PressCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #12 posted by dongenero on November 08, 2011 at 18:06:43 PT
Awesome post museman
What a statement, what a concept.
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Comment #11 posted by museman on November 08, 2011 at 09:22:38 PT
OT: OWS 'Arrestee' speaks
"Nature itself is the beautiful expression of order and balance arising out of chaos. Time and time again, nature has demonstrated its ability to naturally grow this order and peace out of the random noise that makes its very basis. The myth of true order comes from human attempts to impose it where it does not naturally occur. While there may be order, its cause is incorrectly perceived.By definition, imposed order is unstable. It must be forcibly maintained in order to continue to exist. People are as a whole intelligent enough to devise such structures but not intelligent enough to override our most fundamental sense of natural order. As a whole, our species' attempt to engineer its own order has been slowly successful. We created kingdoms, handing ourselves to a monarch. This is an extreme deviation from natural order, because there are in that case only a handful of people globally who matter. It leaves the commoner entirely outside the global order. Out of our natural human desire to move towards natural order, we devised a new structure of governments commonly known as republics. These were closer to something which we could naturally live at ease with. The commoner, despite not having a direct say in the larger global order was in some way involved, or at least believed this to be so. More recently, through the rapid development of communications technologies which allow any one commoner's voice to find itself suddenly amplified and repeated around the world in moments we have grown into an entirely new method of global order. As trivial as much of the social networking conversation is, through social networking borders have fallen, lines have blurred, and a kind of collective consciousness representing its participants equally has arisen from it. However, we find ourselves in a unique situation. The people have moved on from the easily corruptible pseudo-free societies of the past, yet the forces enforcing those societies have attempted to simply ignore this transition. Through force, violence, and illegitimate law which passed without the consent of the commoner, they have attempted to extinguish the phoenix, the collective society which has arisen from the ashes of the republics.Government by definition creates order, whether natural or imposed. A government exists within the borders of some defined region, and exists to represent the people of that region. Therefore, by definition the only possible government is that which exists by the consent of those who represent the people. A government which is operating without that consent is no longer a valid government. It is a criminal enterprise which exists to serve only itself. It in this case has moved from an entity which serves and fears the people to an entity which is served by and is feared by the people. For the people to accept such a criminal takeover of their land is a violation of their core drives, it is a violation of the natural progression from imposed global order towards natural order on a global scale. In the case where a criminal takeover has occurred, it is not only the natural right, but the obligation of that region's people to raise themselves in great numbers against that criminal enterprise which seeks to exploit them. Fundamental human dignity demands it unambiguously. It is unfortunate, but an unavoidable conclusion that yesterday's republics have on a grand scale violated their purpose and made the transition from representatives of the people towards criminal slave enterprise which holds the people in bondage, extracting value and joy from them, forever unhappy with their current holdings. The organs and systems which we the people devised not long ago to serve and represent us have been hijacked by a select few individuals, making the commoner irrelevant despite numerous legal guarantees and protections against this. The methods used in these criminal takeovers vary and are too numerous to list in the context of this document, but they are well documented by many members of the newly arisen collective consciousness.There are many and varied voices which have erupted from captivity which suggest methods by which we the people can reclaim our rightful place as our own rulers and each other's subject at once. In order to reclaim our human dignity and make progress towards natural order, a collective state where the people live in harmony with one another in naturally organized chaos, it is useful to examine the birth of the republics which today have become something grotesque and unrecognizable. Attempt after attempt was made to force monarchs to dictate the will of their subjects, but these attempts were made in ignorance of the fact that the very nature and structure of the kingdoms was not compatible with what the people desired. Facing a global order which could not advance any farther and had reached the end of its useful lifespan, individuals began to realize the increasingly undeniable fact that an entirely new order had to be devised to replace the old kingdoms. We have reached a similar point today. Society's process of collective consciousness and consensus has advanced beyond the point that the republics can follow. In response to this, a select few have hijacked the republics in order to bring them backwards while the people march forwards. As difficult as it is to accept, the time has indeed come to tearfully say goodbye to the republics. They are artifacts of a beautiful age, yet in their age have become irrelevant to the progress of society, and in fact have become a snarling, grotesque weight which fights progress at every turn.The form of the global order's replacement is not mine to decide. It is not yours, it is not your neighbor's. The global order's form is for the globe to decide collectively. For this reason, my identity will not be disclosed. I will present no idea for the future's form other than the fact that society has advanced beyond the point where the republics can exist in their current form. Go forth, and reclaim your dignity. If you fear the republics, imagine this. You are no longer represented in the republics. Therefore, their laws, their edicts, their decrees have no legitimate authority over you. They are just as illegitimate as if I attempted to dictate the terms of your life from behind my keyboard. They have become little more than bullies with guns, and if there is anything the Arab Spring has taught us, it is that guns are utterly useless against an idea." (identity withheld)This is not an arbitrary, made up conclusion. There are significant numbers of aware humans capable of this understanding, and all the establishment can come up with, like on faux-news is ignorant mud slinging. This system is on it's way out. Cling-on if you must, but you are only making it worse for all of us. There are events and actions coming that need a population of loving, sharing, understanding humans to withstand the changes without great damage and loss of life.pooh-pooh it all you like, denial dose not change anything.The ridicule and shunning does not bother me any more, because, though many find it hard to stretch their consciousness beyond the TV or monitor screen, lapping up the false information created by the status quo as if it were from 'experts', there is no stopping it. There is no stopping the current awakening, just like there apparently is no stopping the Juggernaut of Old World Values as it speeds away to oblivion. And all who ride that monster share it's doom. Mud slinging and character assassinations simply will not alter either course.Priority of survival is beginning to enter into some folks awareness, and many things become moot when hunger sets in.The infrastructure of this poorly ordered economic/commerce system we are forced to support is top-heavy, with a weak foundation, it is a second fulfillment of Daniels' prophecy of the fall of Babylon. One solar flare of magnitude can end it in a moment.The system is broken beyond redemption, it is full of holes and corruption, it is wasteful beyond measure, and it is on the way out.What once was only a handful of struggling consciousness's has become global awareness. What once I feared I would carry to my grave without anyone knowing, has become commonly available, even if it isn't 'common knowledge'-yet.Nothing is easy about what is upon us, and what is coming, but there is one certainty, those who resist change do it not only to their own peril, but the peril of their own children and grandchildren.We can no longer continue to support such failed systems. If a person cannot get on board, at least stop throwing stumbling blocks in the way so that those of us who do care can make some progress.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
got it here
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Comment #10 posted by museman on November 07, 2011 at 08:59:45 PT
Mikeeeeee #8
That is correct, and getting harder and harder to deny every day.Watch 'em try though, it's almost a comedy -if so many didn't suffer because of it.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #9 posted by John Tyler on November 06, 2011 at 20:42:54 PT
Drug War corruption in action
People aren’t paid enough to survive anymore. They have to get more money anyway they can. This opens the police types, etc. to corruption from the Drug War. They have to survive and the corruption makes them believe that if someone else has to be sacrificed, well that is the way it will have to be. The Drug War corruption in action.
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Comment #8 posted by MikeEEEEE on November 06, 2011 at 20:29:49 PT
Overtime $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Yes, it's all about the money. The corporate weasels are buying protection.Some cops are eager to make OT, and they may push protesters around near their shift change, to make the mo$t profit from the situation (encouraged by the protection money).This is a corrupt country, as corrupt as they come. 
On a more global level, all signs of collapse.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on November 06, 2011 at 12:20:38 PT
I understand. It is really chaotic around here too.
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on November 06, 2011 at 06:48:56 PT:
GCW, it's getting harder for them to lie anymore
And when you look at how much in the way of resources the Occupy Movement has forced the NYPD to reallocate to it, you realize how much they're lying.At this moment, for every cop assigned to 'observe' The OWS group, obviously there's one cop less to engage in 'stop and frisk'...unless they've put their 'best' (yeah, like the infamous 'Tony Baloney', maybe?) on the line at OWS and have left their less-than-stellar officers to do the daily gruntwork of harassing minorities via the DrugWar. In which case, I suspect that they'll have some real crime to deal with, as opportunistic criminals take advantage of this spectacle of supposed (Ahem) 'public servants' being Wall Street's 'bitches'. The longer this goes on, the greater the possibility that the claim that "Broken Windows" was the reason for a lessening of crime will finally be disproven becomes the most glaring fashion possible. Interesting, isn't it, that you're not hearing much about anything other than OWS with regards to the NYPD? You're not going deaf; they're deliberately playing down the rise in crime, thanks to so many cops being pulled off the line to be Wall Street's handmaidens. Kind of embarrassing to admit that while you're whupping up on non-violent demonstrators, real thugs are taking advantage of that singular stupidity and doing what thugs given a free hand always do. But then, that's nothing new in the DrugWar, because some of those thugs wear three-piece-suits, and sit in the boardrooms of banks where the dirty drug money that kept them afloat is being used as 'gifts' to pay for the overtime of those cops protecting said banksters. The hypocrisy is erupting to the surface, and it's getting harder and harder to explain it away...
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on November 06, 2011 at 06:26:10 PT:
Thanks, FoM
Sorry I haven't been around much. Lots happening on the home front, nothing I'd want to make public, though.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on November 06, 2011 at 05:44:57 PT
Sorry, I didn't mean stupid. I meant idiots.
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on November 06, 2011 at 05:42:21 PT
too many cops, not enough crime.
IMAGINE if there were not, "more leniency toward marijuana use — the state loosened its marijuana-possession laws more than 30 years...... HOW MANY WOULD THEY CAGE, THEN?-0-Good reason to spend less on police spending.The employee has to look busy... -they can't free up officers; there will be way too many standing around doing nothing, too often. Cannabis prohibition is a jobs program.Are's stupid?
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on November 05, 2011 at 18:23:40 PT
It's great to see you! I hope all is well.
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on November 05, 2011 at 18:02:46 PT:
Jim Crow, 21st Century style
Police officials say the studies done by the New York-based Drug Policy alliance others are flawed, and also ignore the context of what has been happening in the city as these arrests continue to rise. Overall, they cite significant decreases in murder and major crimes — the last decade has seen the four lowest annual murder totals since at least 1962.Bald-faced lie. No mention of how the studies were flawed. And crime has been dropping, not only in New York but across the country. 'Stop and frisk' has not reduced serious crime. (And while we're talking about serious crime, why not stopping and frisking the top Wall Street banksters? I'm sure that at any given moment they are holding cash received courtesy of criminal activity.)No, what this is policy is based on is the "Broken Windows" theory. And it remains a theory. But the practice of this theory has been to repress minorities...which, as anyone who does the history of drug prohibition will tell you, is the very core of the Jim Crow-inspired philosophy behind drug prohibition: keeping Harry Anslinger's 'degenerate races' in line.Same s**t, different day. Old wine in new wine-skins. But just as sour.
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