Opinion: Marijuana law just creates criminals
In New York, if this marijuana were in a pocket, possession would not be a crime. Hakeem Jeffries says the law is inconsistent.
June 7th, 2012
08:07 AM ET

Opinion: Marijuana law just creates criminals

Editor's note: Hakeem Jeffries is an assemblyman who represents the 57th Assembly District in central Brooklyn, New York. He's running for the Democratic nomination in New York's 8th Congressional District.

By Hakeem Jeffries, Special to CNN

(CNN) - More than 50,000 people in 2011 were arrested in New York City for possessing small amounts of marijuana - the majority of whom were black and Latino - at a considerable judicial and financial cost. New York City spends about $75 million every year on arresting people for recreational marijuana possession.

But what many people don't know is that the state decriminalized this offense more than 30 years ago, making private possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana a violation punishable by a $100 fine. Possession of the same amount in public view remains a criminal misdemeanor.

Despite this change in law, arrests for small quantities of marijuana over the last decade have skyrocketed, with more than 400,000 people arrested and unceremoniously run through the criminal justice system. Marijuana possession is now the No. 1 arrest category in New York.

Read Hakeem Jeffries' full column

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. CNN Posters Are Full Of Derp

    Guess what, speeding is illegal too, and so is not wearing a seatbelt. Do you want the law to stop worrying about those offenses as well???

    As long as it is illegal, I expect the law to enforce it.... this includes illegal immigrants, but Obama doesn't see the necessity in enforcing that law since he is struggling in the polls and would love a boost from the Hispanic voters.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Max34

    Its too bad we live in a society where the Law over powers justice.

    June 8, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Max Brooks from Florida

      Gotta love the hypocrisy of having one of the most harmful drugs on the planet being legal while one of the safest drugs on the planet is illegal.

      June 10, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |