On September 1, officially, smoking or possessing pot in public will not be considered a jailable crime in Manhattan, instead there’ll be summons issued and people will stop having college funding taken away or spending time locked up for cannabis.
There are a few stipulations, like if the person has a warrant or is on probation they will still be arrested, but already there has been a steep drop in prosecuted cannabis cases since the new legislation was announced.
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However, there are five boroughs that make up The City That Never Sleeps, and not all are on board with the looser approaches to marijuana. In Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island a person will still face criminal prosecution and all the downfalls that come with it.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is behind Manhattan’s move to make pot not a crime and he projects that cannabis prosecutions will go from around 2,000 annually to less than 200. Of those 200 will be those who are on parole or probation, those making a nuisance of themselves, i.e. sparking up on a public bus, and those who are otherwise already breaking the law.
So as it stands, there’s not much to worry about as a pot enthusiast in Brooklyn and Manhattan as long as your ducks are in a row. In all truth, these two boroughs are ahead of the curve in New York. As the gubernatorial primary approaches with wafts of weed in its debates and current NY Governor Andrew Cuomo educates himself more and more about weed, it’s likely that the state will be legalized in the not too distant future.
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In the meantime, while summons are not crimes and don’t carry with them stigmatized background checks, they do carry fines and a day in court. There’s no mailing in of a check and having the initial fine of $100 (Second time offenders are looking at $250) taken care of, instead a day must be taken away from childcare, work or school in order to pay the fine, not to mention $120 in court fees.
They’re still a steps in the right direction and is line with the positive cannabis progression across the nation that seems to have something new happening every day now. New York has always been on the cutting edge; it’s high time they left cannabis users alone and focused resources elsewhere.