"What a time to be alive," said "The Simpsons" long before Aubrey Drake Graham ever did.
That phrase has been ringing true for the…let’s go with "marijuana enthusiasts" among us all year. And that fan base won another victory today, when the New York Post reported that their local police department’s marijuana-related arrests dropped by 40% over the past year.
The reason for this is cool, but it’s also not the NYPD's way of saying "IDGAF." While pot arrests have dropped massively, the number of ‘"violations" (tickets, citations, etc.) has surged upwards over the same period. The casual statistician would interpret this to mean the 5-0 aren’t exactly allowing New Yorkers to smoke freely; they’re just hitting them with smaller consequences rather than major charges for weed use.
So it’s a five-minute timeout during recess, as opposed to an out-of-school suspension. Still a win.
The severity of charges seems to be influenced by neighborhood as well. The Post notes that Staten Island’s arrests-to-violations ratio is much higher than Queens', and even two Bronx precincts that are near each other have wildly different approaches to enforcement.
What’s more, the situation is difficult for police officers. “[They’re] being left in a nowhere land. No matter what they do, they’re subject to criticism,” says criminal justice professor Eugene O’Donnell. “For cops, it’s not really about marijuana; it’s about finding marijuana on the way to finding a gun or more serious narcotics.”
Layman's interpretation: the arrests that are happening are still associated with more serious charges, but if you get caught with a blunt behind the vegan-organic-pop-up bistro funded by the owner's real estate mogul dad, you'll probably just get a citation and a fine.
Though the entire situation could be solved if we embraced the philosophy of Jackie Moon: