Melissa Responds to Mayor Bloomberg’s Marijuana Arrest Proposal & Stop and Frisk Rhetoric

Melissa released the following response to the Mayor’s comments on marijuana arrest policy and stop and frisk:

“In today’s State of the City Address, Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to change the city’s marijuana arrest policy while we await action by the State Legislature to finally decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in public view. Under the new policy, anyone who is able to present identification and clear a warrant check will be released with a desk appearance ticket, rather than being held in custody overnight.

“This policy shift is greatly encouraging and a step in the right direction. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly for recognizing the fundamental problem with the city’s marijuana arrest policy, which has resulted in record numbers of arrests – up to around 50,000 per year – of mostly black and Latino males. The way the city has carried out this policy in recent years is a corruption of the intent of state law, which decriminalized small amounts of marijuana decades ago. I still recall a time when we were not seeing this level of openness within the administration and the NYPD to look at what the City could do to reduce the number of marijuana arrests. I also thank the Drug Policy Alliance, VOCAL-NY and all of the advocates who have brought this issue to the forefront, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for this change at the state level to completely end small-time marijuana arrests.

“In spite of the welcome news on marijuana arrests, I was disappointed by the Mayor’s delusional defense of the city’s stop and frisk policy. The suggestion that without our current stop and frisk policy New York’s murder rate would equal Detroit’s is absurd and unfounded. It is time to stop irresponsibly cultivating fear as a way of drumming up support for this policy, which has damaged community-police relations and has made our young black and Latino men feel more alienated than ever.”


The State of the City Address doesn’t begin until around the 35-minute mark.

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Melissa Applauds Governor Cuomo’s Renewed Push for Marijuana Arrest Reform

Yesterday, Melissa issued the following statement in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strong support of legislation that would end small-quantity marijuana arrests, calling for its passage and the passage of a minimum wage increase before considering pay hikes for legislators.

“I commend New York Governor Cuomo for urging the State Legislature to adopt what he calls ‘The People’s Agenda,’ which includes an end to unjust small-quantity marijuana arrests, before they consider a potential salary hike for legislators.

“I strongly support this principled act of leadership in the face of a hostile Republican State Senate which in the last session blocked legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view. This inaction has led to thousands more unjust stop-and-frisk arrests of young men of color when they are told to empty their pockets during stops. Enforcement of this policy costs the city an estimated $75 million each year.

“The new law would make marijuana possession merely a violation, like a traffic ticket, and not a crime that the police can arrest people for committing. Since there are currently over 50,000 annual stop-and-frisk arrests for small-time marijuana possession in NYC, this will dramatically reduce the unjust criminalization of our youth. Earlier this year, the New York City Council passed a resolution in support of this legislation, which I sponsored, and Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly have voiced their support of these reforms. The Commissioner even issued a directive to officers intended to slow down the number of marijuana arrests. Still, it is essential to codify this policy change at the State level, and I thank Governor Cuomo for taking this issue so seriously.

“I am also very pleased that Governor Cuomo is renewing the push to raise the state’s minimum wage, a vitally important measure which will help working families remain in New York City and the state during times of increasing poverty and income disparity.”