De Blasio’s marijuana-bust level a lot like Bloomberg’s

Marijuana. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, file)
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When he was running for mayor, Bill de Blasio said he wanted to decrease marijuana arrests.

Numbers released by the Drug Policy Alliance, obtained from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, show that marijuana arrests are not actually decreasing under the de Blasio administration, after having gone down during the last two years of the Bloomberg administration.

In a previous piece, Capital looked at how it could be difficult to reconcile de Blasio's plan to decrease marijuana arrests with his plan to implement a version of Broken Windows policing, which in the 1990s relied on high numbers of marijuana possession arrests.

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The report from the Drug Policy Alliance shows that at least in the first four months, marijuana arrests (all arrests where marijuana possession was the only or highest charge) are the same per month on average in January through April of this year as they were over the course of last year.

The Drug Policy Alliance also pointed out that the marijuana possession arrest rates still significantly affect people of color—86 percent of arrests during the first four months of 2014 were of black and Latino individuals—the same as during the previous year under Bloomberg. Only 10 percent of the arrests were of white individuals. This is despite the fact that black and white people have similar marijuana usage patterns.

Lastly, the data released by the Drug Policy Alliance shows the extent to which marijuana possession arrests decreased during the last two years of the Bloomberg administration. Much like stop-and-frisk numbers, marijuana arrests have decreased without the previous administration having changed its rhetoric or acknowledging a need for change. Based on the Drug Police Alliance numbers, marijuana possession arrests in 2013 were 27 percent less than 2012 and 43 percent less than they were in 2011. As you can see in the chart, this is still far more marijuana arrests than there were in 1980s and early 1990s. But if 2014 is the same as 2013, it still means 20,000 fewer arrests than the peak years of 2000, 2010 and 2011.