The possibility of fully legalizing marijuana in New York is on the horizon, but it’s not here yet. Here in New York City, the Mayor is taking baby steps by decriminalizing marijuana, making it a ticket-worthy offense in many cases, with some notable exceptions.
While the policy in New York may be changing, nobody who smokes or possesses marijuana is out of the woods yet. It is all too possible to find yourself charged with a narcotics crime. Here’s what you need to know.
See also: In the News: Changes to NYC Marijuana Policy.
Sometimes the cops are looking for loopholes.
The phenomenon of cops looking for ways around laws which might keep them from arresting people for marijuana isn’t particularly new. It’s been happening since the 1970s, when it was only a crime to have marijuana in public view. Sometimes cops would pull marijuana out of a person’s pocket, throw it on the ground, and declare it was now in public view.
The reasons behind this vary. Some cops genuinely believe marijuana is a problem. Some are trying to boost their arrest rates. Whatever the reason, the police departments don’t always agree with efforts to decriminalize the substance. Until and unless marijuana is legalized you’re taking a risk by carrying it.
See also: 4 Dumb Marijuana Mistakes You May be Making.
Marijuana enforcement differs from borough to borough.
Smoking in Manhattan or Brooklyn? You’re probably not going to be bothered with more than a ticket. Smoking in Staten Island, Queens, or the Bronx? You might still be rounded up for possession and use.
It all depends on the attitudes of the DA in that borough.
All this assumes you don’t have an open warrant or a criminal record. In all 5 boroughs you can be arrested if you’re caught with marijuana and either of these things are true.
If you’re arrested, you may be convicted.
No matter why you’re arrested, from a loophole to being in the wrong burough at the wrong time with the wrong record, you’re going to need a competent New York City criminal lawyer to keep yourself out of jail.
Don’t leave a marijuana charge to chance. It can have significant long-term impacts on your life, and you can still do jail time. Instead, if you’re going to light up, be smart. Make sure you have our number programmed into your phone. You never know when you might need us.