New York City police made 50,383 arrests last year for low-level marijuana arrests, a 69 percent increase in such arrests over 5 years, says the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance, citing data from the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services. Arrests for low-level marijuana possession offenses are the number one arrest catetory in New York City, making up 15 percent of all the total.
The alliance said the dramatic rise in marijuana arrests is not the result of increased marijuana use, which peaked nationally around 1980 according to federal data. Last year was is the sixth year in a row with an increase in marijuana possession arrests. “New York has made more marijuana arrests under [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg than any mayor in New York City history,” said Harry Levine, a sociology professor at Queens College and anexpert on marijuana arrests. “Bloomberg’s police have arrested more people for marijuana than Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani combined. These arrests cost tens of millions of dollars every year, and introduce tens of thousands of young people into our broken criminal justice system.”