Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Tuesday dismissed 3,578 cannabis cases—some dating back to the 1970s—that remained on the docket mostly due to open warrants. The move clears up nearly all of the New York City borough’s remaining cannabis cases.
“For too long, criminalization of marijuana has disproportionately impacted young people and communities of color whose members made up about 90% of those arrested. These arrests ruined the lives of thousands of people over the years, saddling many with criminal convictions that prevented them from pursuing opportunities in life. That was why, in Brooklyn, we stopped prosecuting possession cases in 2014 and went further in 2017, declining prosecution of nearly all smoking cases as well. A year later, we also moved to dismiss warrant cases.”— Gonzalez in a press release
It was his predecessor, the late Ken Thompson, that stopped prosecuting cannabis possession cases in Brooklyn in 2014. In 2017, Gonzalez, as the acting DA, took the policy further and declined to prosecute nearly all cannabis smoking cases as well.
“I hope that these actions will help strengthen community trust in the justice system and allow us to continue moving forward with more fairness and equity,” Gonzalez said.
Currently, only eight cases that include cannabis charges remain in Brooklyn Criminal Court and involve allegations of driving while impaired. In Supreme Court, cannabis charges that are included in more serious felony cases will be dismissed in the course of court proceedings and those charges will not be brought before any jury, the DA’s Office said in the release.
The action by Gonzalez follows similar moves by Queens DA Melinda Katz, Bronx DA Darcel Clark, and Westchester DA Miriam Rocah following the passage of the adult-use reforms by New York lawmakers in March.
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