New York State’s revamped Rockefeller drug laws have let hardened drug dealers escape jail by claiming they’re marijuana addicts, New York City’s top drug prosecutor says, the New York Daily News reports. The goal was to help addicts who sold drugs or committed petty crimes to support their habits, but Special Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said dealers with multiple convictions for non-violent offenses are taking advantage of the reforms.
A Bloods member with two felony drug convictions was charged last October with overseeing a cocaine operation in a Brooklyn housing project. Instead of prison he’s in a drug treatment program for marijuana abuse, after years of denying he ever used drugs. Brennan said her office fought treatment for people who were “not addicts, but businessmen drug dealers, major managers, gang members.” She added, “It’s sending the wrong message, not only to the individual defendant who thinks he may be able to game the system, but to the community at large.” Drug law reform advocates say Brennan is using a few examples to make the program look bad. “She’s tooth-and-nail against the Rockefeller laws being changed,” said Anthony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance. “She is taking one case and blowing it up  to affect thousands of other people who should get treatment instead of jail.”