To understand how rapidly New York overhauled its marijuana laws, look no further than its impact on the criminal justice system.
Fewer and fewer people are being arrested on marijuana offenses in New York, underscoring the major effect of the drug’s decriminalization in 2019 and, ultimately, its legalization this past March.
From April through October of this year, just 116 people statewide were arrested on a top-level misdemeanor or felony charge related to marijuana possession or sale in New York, data compiled by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services shows.
And as of early October, 11 people remained incarcerated in state prisons with a top crime of either criminal sale or possession of marijuana in the first-, second- or third-degree, according to the state Department of Correction and Community Supervision.
A top charge is the most severe offense someone is arrested for.
The drop-off in marijuana arrests has been stark as state lawmakers and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo reshaped the state’s laws related to the drug.
In 2020, after New York lawmakers took steps to decrease marijuana penalties but before they legalized certain amounts of the substance, there were 2,720 misdemeanor or felony marijuana arrests.
Compare that to 2017, when there were 28,239 misdemeanor marijuana arrests alone, according to a study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. [Read more at Democrat & Chronicle]