Low-level marijuana arrests dropped 22 percent last year in New York City, reports the Associated Press. Still, more than 39,000 people were picked up on minor pot possession charges citywide in 2012, according to state Division of Criminal Justice Services data. Low-level marijuana offenses remained the number-one cause of arrests in the city 35 years after state lawmakers decided it wasn’t a crime to have a small amount of pot if it’s out of sight.
The New York Police Department says it can’t pinpoint what caused the drop, which measures the first full year after an order meant to thwart what some considered a tricky arrest practice. Critics say the number measures a toll of questionable police tactics. Otherwise, “these arrests would drop dramatically,” said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports less punitive drug laws. After averaging 2,200 a year for two decades, marijuana arrests began rising in the late 1990s and topped 50,000 in some recent years, including 2011.