Citing statistics from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice, a recent report issued by the Drug Policy Alliance noted that the number of arrests in New York City for low-level marijuana possession offenses plummeted to just 16,590 in 2015 - marking the first time since 1996 that marijuana arrests have been below 17,000.
This recent drop represents a 42 percent decrease from 2014 when there were 26,386 marijuana-related arrests - and a staggering 67 percent decrease from 2011.
Why the decrease?
In November of 2014, New York City officials announced a new policy when it came to marijuana possession charges. Specifically, under this new policy, police would no longer arrest individuals in possession of 25 grams of less of marijuana.
Instead, police would simply issue the alleged offender a summons, but only if the individual had no outstanding warrants, was not smoking the drug and he or she had identification. There is little doubt that this new policy was the main reason for the dramatic drop in marijuana arrests in 2015.
What does this mean?
It is important to remember, however, that just because marijuana arrests have been dropping does not mean police take marijuana-related offenses less seriously. In fact, depending on the circumstances, you may face several different criminal charges if found in possession of significant amounts of marijuana, including drug trafficking and distribution.
In any case, if you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense, you need to consult with an attorney as soon as possible as these offenses may carry substantial penalties - not to mention leave you with a criminal record.