Inequality Abounds In 2019 NYC Cannabis Arrests

Nearly everyone arrested for low-level cannabis crimes in New York City so far in 2019 has been Black or Latinx, despite the continued liberalization of New York cannabis laws.

Full story after the jump.

A new analysis by the Queen’s Daily Eagle shows that, despite the loosening of cannabis possession laws in New York State and an overall decrease in cannabis arrests by the New York Police Department, nearly all individuals arrested for low-level cannabis violations in New York City during the first six months of 2019 were Black or Latinx.

According to the report, 94% of the 1,436 people arrested for 5th-degree cannabis possession or 4th-degree sale were Black or Hispanic. The data did not include arrest rates for whites or Asians, and the NYPD did not record race or ethnicity for all arrests.  

Robert Gangi, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project, told the Eagle that this “blatant” disparity in arrest rates can be attributed to concentrated policing efforts in communities of color.

“The reason is fundamentally where the police are deployed and what directions they’re given. They are deployed primarily in low-income communities of color … and they’re told to practice ‘broken windows’ policing.” — Gangi, via the Queen’s Daily Eagle

These new statistics mirror an analysis published earlier this year that found that African Americans in New York state were 8.1 times more likely to be arrested for misdemeanor cannabis possession than their white peers — an increase from 7.1% in 2010. Similarly, during that same time frame, the Latinx community saw an increase in the same metric from 3.4% to 5%.

New York state Democratic leaders failed to agree on an adult-use cannabis bill this year — although the general consensus seems to be in favor of legalization — despite having control of both legislative bodies and the governorship.

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