De Blasio ends Arrest for Cannabis Smoking after 25 Hospitalized

Over two dozen people were hospitalized in New York City due to smoking synthetic marijuana, popularly known as K2 or Spice. This adds to the already high reports of 33 people overdosing on K2 at the same Bedford- Stuyvesant intersection location in 2016. K2 is not cannabis and can cause a variety of severely harmful effects to the body. It can cause jumbled thoughts or psychotic episodes, can cause headaches, anxiety, heavy sweating, body odor, panic attacks between hits, dry cough, and can make you develop severe fatigue. It’s also known to be addictive even after first time usage, and can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Steady health reports that 76% of users first got the product from a friend, 57% of users got their second hit from a convenience store, 43% of users get it from gas stations and 19% of users buy K2 from their marijuana dealers.

Due to the recent, not really recent though, news, De Blasio has pushed the long curbed fight for no-arrests towards marijuana smoking that’s done in public that mostly ensnared black and hispanic people. A New York Times investigation showed that black people were arrested on the account of low-level marijuana charges at an average eight times the rate of white people over the last three years and hispanics at five times the rate. Additionally, among the neighborhoods that people complained about marijuana at the same rates, more arrests were made in communities that held black residents.

“The city has proven itself unwilling to end discriminatory marijuana possession policing. The situation is becoming intolerable.” said Rory Lancman, Head of  New York City’s Justice council, in a statement after the publication of the NYT’s article and asked NYC’s five district attorneys to stop prosecuting low-level cannabis possession cases entirely. The manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said he would stop prosecuting marijuana possession and smoking arrests this summer, and gave NYPD until then to explain the wide discrepancy in limited categories of people arrested. Brooklyns district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, said that over the last three months the amount of cases for marijuana smoking had doubled and that he had stopped prosecuting and now plans start discarding more cases.

Along with the health scares, the city now also acknowledges the wide racial injustice gap in arrests along with the Police Departments unacceptable excuse for the gap, the foresight shows that their could potentially be a substantial change in some parts of the city to not be penalized at all for smoking.

Police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said would assemble a working group to review enforcement tactics for the issue and conceded that some arrests “have no impact on public safety.”

Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director at Drug Policy Alliance, which has long promoted for legalization and publicized the discrimination gap in arrests, faulted De Blasio for not acting sooner. “It is a waste of our public safety resources to arrest people for marijuana,” said Frederique. Research has shown there is no good/valid evidence that marijuana arrests are associated with reductions in serious crime in NYC.

48 hours after the NYT published their analysis on racial discrimination in marijuana arrests, De Blasio writes in a tweet, “Im announcing today that the NYPD will overhaul its marijuana enforcement policies in the next 30 days. We must end unnecessary arrests and end disparity in enforcement.” This is going to result in more summons than arrests but will only be in affect by late summer.

In a report released Tuesday, Mr. Vance said he supports legalization of cannabis and found no rationale for the NYC’s enforcement tactics: “These arrests waste an enormous amount of criminal justice resources for no punitive, rehabilitative, deterrent or other public safety benefit. And they do so in a racially disparate way that stigmatizes and disadvantages the arrestees,” said the report.

Mr. Gonzalez said he supported civil summonses instead of arrests for the plant, while Mr. Vance supports civil or criminal summonses until state legalization. Arrests are to be made mostly for those with criminal history or warrants. Scott Hechinger, a senior staff lawyer and director of policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, said doing so wouldn’t make a difference considering, “ the people that are going to have records are folks that live in neighborhoods that are overpoliced and targeted for enforcement,” said Hechinger, “The odor of marijuana has become the new broken taillight.”

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