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Entries in Marijuana (3)

NYPD Marijuana Arrest, Harlem - War on Drugs aka War on People of Color

My latest cop watch. Ironically I found myself and my work being validated by the cop in charge. Then it was back to business as usual...marijuana arrest... - Joseph Jazz Hayden

This is a video of a typical marijuana arrest conducted by members or the NYPD. Even though possesing under 25 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized in New York State since the 1970's the NYPD continues to make every effort to criminalize people of color for those offenses. This is based on a loophole in that law that states that if that same amount of marijuana is in, "plain site" it becomes an arrestable misdemeanor offense rather than a violation.


Here is a report from the NYCLU on the racial disparities in marijuana arrests in the stat of New York.

NYCLU Analysis Exposes Stark Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests in Counties Across New York State

June 6, 2013 —  There are stark racial disparities in low-level marijuana arrests in counties across New York State, according to a New York Civil Liberties Union analysis released today of federal crime reporting data from 2010.

The greatest racial disparities occur in Kings County (Brooklyn) and New York County (Manhattan), where black New Yorkers are more than 9 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing marijuana. But the problem is not limited to New York City. Enormous racial disparities exist in counties throughout the state, including several of the state’s most populous counties, such as Onondaga (7.75 times more likely), Niagara (7.56 times more likely), Monroe (6.5 times more likely) and Erie (5.66 times more likely).

“In all corners of New York State, police are targeting people of color for marijuana possession arrests,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “Arresting and jailing thousands of people for possessing small amounts of marijuana does not make safer streets. It only needlessly disrupts people’s lives and fosters distrust between the police and the communities they are sworn to serve.”

Statewide, black people are 4.5 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. They are at least twice as likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana in 52 of the state’s 62 counties. Nationally, blacks are more than 3.7 times as likely as whites to be subjected to marijuana arrests.

There were consistently large racial disparities in marijuana arrests in New York State between 2001 and 2010. While arrest rates of whites increased slightly, black people shouldered a great portion of the increases in marijuana arrests, with the black arrest rate increasing 26 percent over that time span.

These gaping racial disparities in marijuana arrests exist even though government surveys show that whites use marijuana at higher rates than blacks do.

An American Civil Liberties Union report released this week on marijuana arrests nationwide showed New York leads the nation in marijuana arrests. In 2010, there were 103,698 marijuana-possession arrests in New York State – more than 29,000 more arrests than the state with the second-highest total, Texas with 74,286 arrests. New York’s marijuana arrest rate of 535 arrests per 100,000 people was double the national average and was the highest arrest rate of any state.

“New Yorkers should be embarrassed that our state leads the nation in marijuana arrests,” Lieberman said. “The crackdown on low-level marijuana possession needlessly hurts individuals and families – subjecting them to all sorts of collateral consequences like the loss of student financial aid and job opportunities. Governor Cuomo has pledged to clarify the state’s marijuana laws to bring justice and common sense to drug enforcement in our state. We urge him to keep that promise.”

New York City is the nation’s marijuana arrest capital. Arrests for marijuana possession in the city skyrocketed from only 774 in 1991 – for the lowest misdemeanor offense – to 50,383 in 2010 – an increase of 6,409 percent. The explosion in marijuana arrests happened despite the fact that New York State made marijuana possession a violation in 1977, like speeding or ignoring a stop light.

The number of marijuana-possession arrests in the state annually was consistently high between 2001 and 2010 and increased over the final three years of that time span.

Arresting people for possessing small amounts of marijuana does not reduce serious or violent crime. According to a study by two University of Chicago professors, these arrests only pull police off the streets and divert them into nonessential police work. According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse and Health, the rise in marijuana arrests has not corresponded with a reduction in the use of marijuana in New York State.

Marijuana possession arrests drive thousands of young men of color into the criminal justice system. It does so at significant taxpayer expense. In 2010, marijuana arrests cost state taxpayers $678.5 million in police and court costs.

“At a time when county governments across New York are cutting services to close huge budget deficits, police should not be wasting scarce resources arresting people for small amounts of marijuana,” Lieberman said.

Marijuana arrests needlessly harm individuals and families. They can affect eligibility for public housing and student financial aid, employment opportunities, child custody determinations and immigration status. Marijuana convictions can also subject people to more severe charges and sentences if they are ever arrested for or convicted of another crime. In addition, the targeted enforcement of marijuana laws against people of color sows mistrust between communities and the police, weakening public safety.

Drug Prohibition is Human Rights Issue - Jazz Hayden

Jazz Hayden Speaking at NYC Canabis Parade 2013

By: Joseph "Jazz" Hayden

At a recent event against drug prohibition I was asked to speak, as I was asked to speak the year before.  Well, my views on drug prohibition have been consistently consistent----prohibition is sheer bull---t!  It is my opinion that the entire narrative around drugs in this country (and the world) has to be changed.  For far too long we have framed the discussion in terms of law and public policy.  It is time for a change because that conversation is not going anywhere.  The conversation has to be reframed in terms of “human rights” and an individuals inalienable right to choose what he/she can put in their bodies.  Noone should have the power to tell another human being what they can and cannot put in their bodies.  Each one of us is trapped in the “castle of our skins” for the duration of our short stay on this planet.  We feed, exercise, clothe, house, and take care of our bodies 24/7.  I watch the pharmaceutical commercials on television and I am amazed at the glaring contradictions in the way that pharmaceutical drugs are treated and the way that so-called “illicit” drugs are treated.  A pharmaceutical drug that has one possible beneficial effect, and fifteen side effects that can maim or kill you is presented to potential customers who are given this information so that they can make a choice.  The provision of all research information to the potential consumer and the leaving of the decision up to them is the way that all drugs should be treated.  Why isn’t this universally applied?  Why do we have so many human beings in cages for simply “self-medicating”, making choices about what to put in their bodies?  How do we rationalize designating them as “criminals” and branding them as second class citizens for the rest of their lives?  This is madness!  The human cost of this failed policy is horrendous!  The economic cost is off of the charts…


Drug War Statistics

Did you know....

Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000


Number of people arrested in 2011 in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges: 1.53 million


Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2011: 757,969

  • •              Number of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 663,032 (87 percent)

Number of Americans incarcerated in 2011 in federal, state and local prisons and jails: 2,266,800 or 1 in every 99.1 adults, the highest incarceration rate in the world


Fraction of people incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison that are black or Hispanic, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 2/3


Number of states that allow the medical use of marijuana: 18 + District of Columbia


Estimated annual revenue that California would raise if it taxed and regulated the sale of marijuana: $1,400,000,000


Number of people killed in Mexico's drug war since 2006: 70,000+


Number of students who have lost federal financial aid eligibility because of a drug conviction: 200,000+


Number of people in the U.S. that died from an accidental drug overdose in 2009: 31,758


Tax revenue that drug legalization would yield annually, if currently-illegal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco: $46.7 billion


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that syringe access programs lower HIV incidence among people who inject drugs by: 80 percent


One-third of all AIDS cases in the U.S. have been caused by syringe sharing: 354,000 people


U.S. federal government support for syringe access programs: $0.00, thanks to a federal ban reinstated by Congress in 2011 that prohibits any federal assistance for them

More Resources

Get additional facts at the Drug War Facts website

Governor Cuomo Proposes Legislation to End NYPD Practice of Minor Marijuana Arrest



The struggle will not end with this incremental change, it will only end when we have control over what happens in our communities by having control and accountability over those that claim to represent our interest. We cannot wait decades for tweaking of abusive policies. We need structural change. The police are our servants, not our masters. This is the official report of the pending reform.

NY Times - Cuomo Seeks Cut in Frisk Arrests


Wading into the debate over stop-and-frisk police tactics, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask legislators on Monday for a change in New York State law that would drastically reduce the number of people who could be arrested for marijuana possession as a result of police stops.

The governor will call for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view, administration officials said. Advocates of such a change say the offense has ensnared tens of thousands of young black and Latino men who are stopped by the New York City police for other reasons but after being instructed to empty their pockets, find themselves charged with a crime.

Reducing the impact of the Bloomberg administration’s stop-and-frisk policy has been a top priority of lawmakers from minority neighborhoods, who have urged Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, to pay more attention to the needs of their communities. The lawmakers argue that young men found with small amounts of marijuana are being needlessly funneled into the criminal justice system and have difficulty finding jobs as a result.

By deciding to get involved in the biggest law enforcement issue roiling New York City, Mr. Cuomo is again inserting himself into the affairs of the city in a way that has been welcomed by some and resented by others. He previously brokered the resolution of a dispute over legalizing street hails of livery cabs, and he ordered the city to stop requiring that food stamp applicants be fingerprinted.

In this case, the governor would be acting against the wishes of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and in spite of a September directive from the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, who instructed officers not to arrest people who take small amounts of marijuana out of their pockets or bags after being stopped by the police.

The Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group critical of the Police Department’s marijuana arrest policies, found that only a modest decline in the arrests followed Mr. Kelly’s memorandum.

Though the governor’s legislation does not address the high number of stops by the police, it would take aim at what many black and Hispanic lawmakers as well as advocacy groups say has been one of the most damaging results of the aggressive police tactics: arrest records for young people who have small amounts of marijuana in their pockets.

“For individuals who have any kind of a record, even a minuscule one, the obstacles are enormous to employment and to education,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “When it’s really a huge number of kids in the community who go through this, and all have the same story, the impact is just devastating.”

The police in New York City made 50,684 arrests last year for possession of a small amount of marijuana, more than for any other offense, according to an analysis of state data by Harry G. Levine, a sociologist at Queens College. The arrests continued — one in seven arrests made in the city was for low-level marijuana possession — even as Commissioner Kelly issued his directive.

Mr. Bloomberg has opposed ending arrests for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. His administration has argued that the arrests serve to reduce more serious crime by deterring drug dealing and the violence that can accompany the drug trade.

Read full Story

 ATH Video of NYPD Arresting a Man For Marijuana Joint In Harlem

All prior convictions under Bloomberg and Kelly's racist policy and practice should be expunged and the "victims" compensated and apologized to by the City.