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New York City Lowers Penalties for Minor Pot Possession

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Uriel Sinai/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York City has moved to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in an effort to cut down on the thousands of arrests for pot by the police each year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that under the plan, people caught carrying 25 grams or less of marijuana may be issued a summons, eliminating the need for being booked and fingerprinted. The citation would result in a fine of $100.

The new policy gets underway Nov. 19.

The city’s action follows that of the Brooklyn prosecutor who said earlier this year that his office would no longer try cases involving small amounts of the drug.

Stopping the myriad of pot busts should also improve relations between the NYPD and minorities. Through August of 2014, an estimated 86 percent of marijuana possession arrests involved either African-Americans or Hispanics.

While the penalties are reduced for simple possession, smoking or holding a lit joint could still result in arrest, Bratton said. Also, people with outstanding warrants caught with marijuana are not included in the new policy.


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