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Mayor pushes to stop arrests for smoking marijuana in public

While medical marijuana is legal in New York, smoking marijuana is still illegal. According to current New York law, you could be arrested if police catch you smoking marijuana in public and you will likely have to be fingerprinted and required to appear in court. On the other hand, when someone is in possession of a small amount of marijuana, they are issued a summons instead and are not generally arrested or fingerprinted, unless they do not show identification. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio is making an effort to stop public marijuana smoking arrests. The mayor has told New York City police to stop arresting those smoking marijuana in public and instead issue them a summons.

In 2017, police in Manhattan made 5,500 drug arrests relating to public pot smoking or possession of small amounts of marijuana. Many believe that the laws that led to these arrests disproportionately impact minorities.

The New York police department has created a working group to review current procedures relating to marijuana enforcement and plan to make recommendations within 30 days, per the mayor's request. The mayor is specifically fighting to stop people from being arrested for smoking pot in public, but has also made the group aware of other changes he would like to see. If the NYPD does decide to put a stop to public marijuana smoking arrests, the change would not take place until the end of the summer.

New York, along with many other states, have decriminalized marijuana, but it is still illegal under federal law. If you have been arrested on a marijuana-related drug charge, you should consider speaking to a criminal defense attorney to review your legal options and come up with a strong defense strategy.

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