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by Peter Moskos

February 11, 2011

Weed Menace Grows in New York City--NYPD Responds

Your Attention Please: Marijuana has now been found in all five boroughs. Luckily, in response to this plague, the NYPD has cracked down and arrested more people than ever for the crime of possessing marijuana. In 2010, 50,383 were arrested (86 percent of these are black or Latino). Noble drug warriors estimate that a continued focus on locking up low-level drug users will eradicate the evil weed by 2014. Currently, thanks to massive police presence, a entire 6-block area in East New York has been declared "marijuana free."

The number of marijuana arrests last year was greater than the number of marijuana arrests during entire 19-year period from 1978 to 1996.

Of course that makes sense, since marijuana didn't hit The Bronx until 1995. And the first "bud" wasn't confirmed on Staten Island until 2002.

But seriously, I know marijuana is illegal. And I know that some low-level drug offenders are more serious criminals. If you're arresting some violent drug dealer and all you can get him on is smoking a joint, fine. But most of these arrests are for nothing more than small-scale marijuana possession, a non-arrestable offense in New York State! Not only are many of these arrests wrong, they're expensive, counter-productive, and only happen because officers face crazy pressure to produce numbers for Compstat.

Meanwhile, back in NYPD recruiting, they're scratching their heads trying to figure out why it's so hard to find young New York-raised black and Latino men with a clean record. You reap what you sow.


Anonymous said...

As a form of protest and simply to prove for the millionth time that trying to control drugs is pointless, I propose the Johnny Pot-Seed project. Everyone save your seeds and when the weather warms up, plant them in public places under cover of darkness and abandon them. Parks, around government buildings, highway medians, everywhere.

Hilarity ensues after the first neurotic soccer mom realizes what's growing next to the playground.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for highlighting this both as the ridiculous, but illegal, "policy" that low level busts can be without deriding the NYPD. Last week, NBC nightly news literally had 16 words on the subject....not sure if this has been covered by any major news outlet with any amount of elaboration. If anything I hope that you will cover this in a future post, or if you can suggest further reading I would appreciate it. I can't imagine the insane pressure officers on the ground must have for producing "activity". It's a real dichotomy: Lock up the locals for small time offenses, and now try to get the locals to open up about anything major. MOS Discretion seems to be becoming a thing of the past.

PCM said...

But I thought I *was* deriding the NYPD! (I don't deride them in general. But this really is absurd.)

The main man to read for more on this is CUNY/Queens College Professor Harry Levine. I've linked to a lot of his stuff on the bog, I think. If can find him through google or just searching for him on this blog.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the info. I suppose you were deriding the brass and city policy, but not faulting the cops on the beat specifically.