Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced on Tuesday (July 31) that he will no longer be prosecuting people for cases related to marijuana possession and smoking. The new policy has reportedly been in affect since Wednesday (Aug. 1), The Hill reports.
In a statement, Vance claimed that "the needless criminalization of pot smoking" has prevented prosecutors from being able to carry out their duties.
"Our research has found virtually no public safety rationale for the ongoing arrest and prosecution of marijuana smoking, and no moral justification for the intolerable racial disparities that underlie enforcement," Vance said."Office will exit a system wherein smoking a joint can ruin your job, your college application, or your immigration status, but our advocacy will continue."
Moving forward, cases dealing with marijuana will only be prosecuted if it is being sold or if an individual involved in the case "poses a significant threat to public safety."
The new policy comes shortly after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that police officers will no longer arrest people for smoking marijuana in public. The new enforcement is part of the police department's plan to reform its policies regarding the recreational drug.
With both policies in place, the number of arrests and prosecutions for marijuana in the Manhattan area is expect to decrease by 96 percent, according to The Hill. The case load will likely drop from 5,000 cases annually to fewer than 200 each year. Additionally, The New York Times reported that there is a racial disparity in marijuana arrests throughout the city, with an estimated 87 percent of those charged being black or Latino. So, it will hopefully prevent an increase in black and brown incarceration as well.