NEW YORK. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy change that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana initially reduced the number of marijuana arrests in New York City. According to the Village Voice, between 2014 and 2015 misdemeanor marijuana arrests dropped by 56 percent. Individuals carrying 25 grams or less of marijuana would be issued a summons rather than face arrest under Bill de Blasio’s policy. Yet, recent data released by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services has found that in 2016, arrests for marijuana possession rose by 30 percent, even for the sale and possession of small quantities of marijuana.

Individuals who believe that they are not carrying amounts of marijuana that could result in an arrest may be in for a big surprise in New York City if they are caught by the NYPD. If you have been arrested for marijuana possession, it is important to understand the seriousness of the charges you may be facing. Possession charges can lead to jail time, difficulty getting jobs in the future, and can lead to problems accessing federal aid. If you’ve been arrested for possession, a possession lawyer in NYC may be able to assist you. The Spodek Law Group, P.C. are criminal defense attorneys who fight for the rights of individuals facing criminal charges in New York.

According to the Village Voice, in some cases, officers are being pressured to make at least five arrests each month. A single marijuana misdemeanor arrest can generate as much as $1500-$2000. Officers may be targeting individuals for marijuana possession because these are the easiest arrests to get. Racial bias may also play a role in who gets arrested, with people of color being arrested more often than other groups in the city. In fact, in 2016, 86.5 percent of all arrests were of people of color, with fare-beating and marijuana possession being the most common charges. According to Gothamist, whites use marijuana just as much as Latinos and Blacks, so the uneven arrest numbers suggest continued racial profiling on the part of police. Police practices on the streets seems to differ greatly from the announced reforms. Individuals who believe they are compliant with the law may face arrest despite New York’s policy changes.

Possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized since 1977, unless the drug is smoked or displayed publicly. Officers have been repeatedly told to follow the law when it comes to arrests. Yet, it isn’t clear whether the people being arrested in 2016 were carrying more than 25 grams. It also isn’t clear whether those arrested for smaller quantities were smoking or using in public. Regardless of the situation, it is clear that police are facing increased scrutiny for racial profiling.

If you’ve been arrested for possession, you may be facing a range of consequences. You are innocent until proven guilty and have the right to seek the counsel of a lawyer. Visit www.spodeklawgroup.com to learn more about your rights and to protect yourself.