September 23, 2011

In response to the disclosure of NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly’s directive ordering officers not to arrest people for misdemeanor marijuana possession when the marijuana becomes "public" because an officer has searched a person or directed the person to empty his or her pockets, NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman issued the following statement:

“As arrests for possession of minor amounts of marijuana have exploded over the last 10 years, the NYCLU has been working to protect New Yorkers from these senseless and illegal arrests. Today’s disclosure implicitly recognizes that police officers have gone too far. This comes as no surprise to the more than 100,000 people, predominantly black and Latino, who have been arrested over just the last 2 years.”

“Over the last decade, the NYPD has wasted a tremendous amount of human and capital resources illegally arresting and jailing New Yorkers for possessing small amounts of marijuana,” Lieberman said.

“In addition to this new order, however, the NYPD must now commit resources to training and monitoring officers to put an end to its decade-long marijuana arrest program and start complying with the Constitution and New York law. If it does so, we should see a huge drop in the number of marijuana arrests.”