NEW YORK (AP) — Many people arrested on low-level marijuana-possession charges in the nation’s largest city will no longer be booked and held hours for arraignment, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.
Starting next month, people who get picked up on charges of having a small amount of marijuana will be released with appearance tickets if they have identification and no open warrants, Bloomberg said, spotlighting the issue in his State of the City address amid debate over the tens of thousands of such arrests in the city each year.
Now, many of those arrested are booked and remain in custody until they go before a judge, a process that can take 24 to 36 hours. An appearance ticket, by contrast, means a person is freed until a future court date.
“It’s the right thing to do, and it will allow us to target police resources where they’re needed most,” Bloomberg said, adding that he continues to back a push to change state laws surrounding marijuana possession.
The change comes after several years of back-and-forth between the city and advocates for less punitive drug policies over the growing number of low-level marijuana arrests in the city in the past decade.
The announcement also comes amid what many observers see as a nationwide trend toward legalizing recreational marijuana use. In November, voters in Washington and Colorado approved decriminalizing and regulating possession of small amounts.
By JENNIFER PELTZ
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