New York City is entering its 10th year of pouring tens of millions of dollars into arresting people for the lowest-level misdemeanor marijuana cases. New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer says that although whites make the heaviest use of pot, they are the least likely to be arrested for it. Last year, black New Yorkers were seven times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession and no more serious crime. Latinos were four times more likely.
Sociologist Harry Levine of Queens College says that during Mayor Michael Bloomberg's first two terms in office, the lowest-level marijuana arrests were up, on average, by 50 percent over when predecessor Rudolph Giuliani was in office. Last year, the city made 40,300 such arrests – about 12 percent of arrests for all crimes. Of these, 87 percent were of blacks or Latinos.