As we reported late last year, over 50,000 people per year are arrested in the New York City area for pot possession. Despite some efforts by politicians and drug policy groups to curb arrests on such drug charges when there is a lack of evidence, arrests for marijuana possession actually rose slightly last year, from about 50,400 to 50,700.
More people are arrested by the NYPD for pot possession than for any other crime. Those arrests account for nearly one in seven total arrests. The arrests have increased dramatically over the last several years. For example, reports Fox News, 227,000 people were arrested in the last five years. That's the rough equivalent of the number arrested between 1978 and 2001 combined.
According to a law dating back to 1977, small amounts of marijuana must be in clear view to merit an arrest. But many have complained that police are arresting people when they find marijuana in people's pockets after frisking them.
As a result of the continued criticism, the police commissioner last September issued a reminder to officers that they cannot arrest people if the marijuana "was disclosed to public view at an officer's direction," according to Fox News.
It's likely that the number of arrests will drop when this year's data is ultimately released. In the last weeks of the year after the commissioner's reminder, marijuana arrests fell 13 percent when compared to the year before. However, advocates are saying that people continue to be arrested even when pot is not in public view. Such violations should only result in a ticket, not an arrest.
Source: Fox News, "Pot arrests top 50K despite NYPD order," Feb. 1, 2012