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How Come White People Never Get Arrested for Marijuana in NYC?

No matter how you frame it, most people still struggle with the concept that marijuana laws are enforced unfairly. I don't see what's so complicated about this:

Even though surveys show they are part of the demographic group that makes the heaviest use of pot, white people in New York are the least likely to be arrested for it.

Last year, black New Yorkers were seven times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession and no more serious crime. Latinos were four times more likely. [NYT]

You can't explain away a gaping disparity like that. This is not just a matter of cultural differences in marijuana using behavior. White people smoke herb in the streets of New York, too. There is no bigger factor at play here than the discretionary choices police make about who to approach and investigate. It really is that simple and that unfair.

But just because it's racist doesn’t mean it's bad, says the city:

Mr. Bloomberg’s chief criminal justice aide, John Feinblatt, declined to discuss the city’s approach to marijuana arrests, or the findings of the study. But through a spokesman, he issued a statement maintaining the pot arrests have helped drive down violent crime.

Even if I believed that stopping a million people a year in the streets of New York is necessary to drive down violent crime, that still doesn’t mean you have to arrest them when marijuana is discovered. None of this even begins to make any sense, and it comes as no surprise that city officials are loathe to attempt an explanation for it.

If you want to reduce violent crime, try legalizing marijuana so there's one less thing to fight over.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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That's because most white people in the city drive, and most others don't. Rich white people have their own personal bubbles around them all the time while many city folk, who are many times of color, walk from place to place, or take the bus, or train, and are more likely to get hassled. That's just one factor.

Making Anslinger Proud

Harry Anslinger, a prohibitionist that played a huge role in making marijuana illegal would be proud. After all, he was quoted as saying that it had to be illegal because of "it's affects on the degenerate races" and that "reefer makes darkies think they are as good as white men."

Racism and greed drove the prohibition of marijuana, and it is still alive and well in it's enforcement. Police will say that the crime rates are higher in black neighborhoods, so that is why they crack down on anything and everything there. Politicians get to say they are tough on crime, and we keep the prison industrial system rolling along just fine.

Ending the drug war on marijuana would end yet another politically sanctioned and approved racially motivated law allowing discrimination and profiling.

Well said!

Racism is alive and well and we cannot legislate it out of existence. Man's heart has to change! Until we all realize we are the same genetic line and stop wanting to feel superior to someone else, there will be NO CHANGE!

So, the half of NYPD

So, the half of NYPD officers who are minorities are being fooled by someone to enforce the law in a racially biased way? Typical, condescending racist attitude. No surprise here.

Justice Abuse

Any law that depends upon a person’s immediate proximity to a taboo substance to produce an arrest can’t help but be a law that gets exploited for nearly anything but its intended purpose.

People targeted for their race, politics, socioeconomics, or religion often find themselves at odds with the drug laws because the use of specific drugs is linked to specific cultures, and cultures revolve around race, politics, socioeconomics and religion.  Manipulating laws to promote a clash of cultures usually leads to war, a drug war in this case.  War produces violence, not weed.


So, anonymous may be more

So, anonymous may be more knowledgeable than all of the robotic, order taking minority officers of the NYPD. How do we explain some very high ranking minority police leaders who issue the orders that are followed?

No matter how high in rank they are

They still have bosses higher in rank.

Explain these numbers?

More police are deployed to areas of statistically higher violence. Like it or not, these are mostly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. All those cops have to show some sign that they are alive and working. One sign of productivity is an easy arrest. I see nothing racist about the intent of these orders. While you may interpret the results of the policy as racist, there is a correlation between these arrests and the reduction in crime and violence in these neighborhoods which is not racist at all. So, are the NYPD leaders (many Black and Hispanic) a bunch of closet racists as the article implies or have they found a way to use existing law to prevent other crimes from happening in the first place? I believe that these are good people who are trying to fulfill their objective of lowering crime, and it seems to be working.

If they want to lower violent crime, they'll experiment

with heroin and cocaine maintenance treatment. And of course they'll legalize weed, reducing the black market for drugs drastically, and leveling the playing field between cannabis and its bad boy competition. Yes talking about you, alcohol, who else? Bloomberg smoked pot at least once, he liked it, I'm not sure what he has against it, no matter what effect these stops have on crime in New York the racial aspect of who get arrested for weed in NYC are ugly to contemplate, when the damn stupid law shouldn't be on the books in the first place. When's the last time cannabis killed someone in NYC? How many people did alcohol kill in NYC today?

Experiment with heroin and

Experiment with heroin and cocaine maintenance treatment? NYC has a huge methadone industry which makes big hospitals richer while the patients languish in heroin/methadone/xanax/atavan addiction.
Maybe weed should be legalized, but not based on this fraudulent racism argument. There are many reasons minorities are arrested for weed more than white people, but it is not because of police racism.

Who cares whatever real or perceived reason Eddie?

Ending prohibition will greatly reduce violence and hostility( antagonized by Harry Anslinger stirring the pot,fanning the flames) by removing the bad apples attempting to spoil the whole barrel from all sides of the law who profit from the pain and death of prohibition and war. Plus returning the ability to openly grow sustainable local resources to the poor such as cannabis will create prosperity and jobs which help to restore peace and personal responsibility through education and hands on work. Cannabis is one of the good earths most medicinal healing herbs which can help heal and stop the madness. I wish you well,thank you for your service & respect your life experiences you've shared . Peace

Even if most police are not acting with racist intent

the results are still racist. White kids can smoke weed with relative impunity compared to black kids in NYC.
There's also economic class based discrimination involved, kids from more affluent families can smoke in the comfort of someone's home or private property, kids from poor families often have no alternative to the streets.

I wonder why?

Maybe those poor kids' parents know how bad it is when they get busted! Sell half your bag to a friend, and get 20 years!? The parents know that, but in the same way, they are putting the kids out on the street corner, to get busted! Better their kids in prison than them!? But, I agree that it appears to be true about smoking in safety. That could be, at least one of the reasons, why the arrest rate looks like it has racial overtones.

I have to admit I would have to have my head in the sand to not see the racism, in our "free" country! Anyone, who practices racist behavior, is denying the inalienable rights and liberty to their fellow citizens, that are guaranteed, for every citizen, in our Constitution. The good thing is that, at least, the Constitution does not seem to be a racist document. But there are way too many people in our country that would deny those inalienable rights because of the color of one's skin. Freedom is OK, only if you are white!?

I am, also, really tired of the race card being played. In this case, it appears to be that the race of the child depends on how they are treated. Could the race determine the response to the drug laws? I don't know, but an attitude of "who gives a shit" might be prevalent among youth that suffer the discrimination and higher arrest rate. A "cocky" personality, be the person/child, black or white, will likely lead to an increased arrest rate as well. Could blacks have a cocky attitude because of past discrimination? I do''t know. There needs to be a study.

We all know that getting smart with the cops, nowadays, can result in some pretty severe punishment. (including getting shot while laying on the ground, unarmed!) Filming them from your own porch could get you roughed up, as well! If you have a camera in your hands, you seem to be an open target for attack. That is, especially likely, if that camera is filming the police in some of their questionable behavior..

I think it is possible.There might even be some deep seated societal reasons, that people among the different races are more exposed to the drug laws. (since racism had a big part in the development of drug prohibition i.e Harry Anslinger) Thing is, one cannot legislate morality. Racism cannot be controlled with laws! It has to be a basic change in humanity. I do not see this happening, soon! The "human element" is at play, here, as well.


So, maybe when the author of the article thinks about it and looks at the reality of the situation he can't really say: "There is no bigger factor at play here than the discretionary choices police make about who to approach and investigate. It really is that simple and that unfair." It is not about racism, it is about police deployment which follows violent crime.

BTW- I'm pretty sure you won't find a portrait of Anslinger on a police precinct wall these days if that makes anyone feel better.

Ever hear of David Lee Roth?

He was busted for weed in nyc. I guess your entire article is BS.

No shit David Lee Roth arrested for ganja in NYC?

How much time he do? Did Van Halen bail him out? lol

My original question?

I had originally asked why it is acceptable to assume that the minority half of the NYC Police who go along with this policy are either willing stooges for the racist white man, too dumb to realize what they are doing or closet self-hating racists themselves? I still don't understand how such a racist implication can be made by a supposedly anti-racism article. Seems to me, the author is saying that minorities don't know what is good for them but he does? Who's the racist?

Convoluted thinking

My point is that blaming police for enforcing laws based on inherent personal racism, such as;

"White people smoke herb in the streets of New York, too. There is no bigger factor at play here than the discretionary choices police make about who to approach and investigate. It really is that simple and that unfair. But just because it's racist doesn’t mean it's bad, says the city..."

is counter-productive and not supported by the reality of the situation.
This weak reasoning undermines stronger arguments that people will dismiss as drug lobby rhetoric, and completely ignore. If this is what passes for critical thinking today, we have lost ground.

Eddie; answer this if its not a problem for you?

Why are those neighborhoods spoken of of more violent? how did they get that way? What makes them

Just what is?

Just what is the reality of the situation?

Why are those neighborhoods more violent?

For a million reasons. Poverty, lack of proper education, cultural reasons, street corner drug retailers, etc., etc. I'm not arguing against legalization of marijuana. I am arguing that labelling a police force that is half minority as racist is a weird and false argument on behalf of legalization.

The reality of the situation (as stated in my earlier brilliant post. ha-ha) is that more cops are in minority neighborhoods based on the violent crime that occurs there. More cops = more arrests. Smoking weed in public is still illegal in NY. This strategy seems to be helping to bring down violent crime in NYC.

Your problem is with the law, not the cops!

Bringing violent crime down?!

I really have my doubts that arresting a bunch of non-violent cannabis smokers is really contributing to the drop in violent crime. In addition, the fact that a drop in violent crime has, reportedly, happened all over the country. And the "experts" don't know why! The "experts " actually think the crime rate should have gone up as a result of the terrible problems we have with the economy!

If the violent criminals were the ones being jailed, one might have a believable reason to state that. But, that is not the case, here!

If cops were not trying to make so many "drug busts", they might, actually, be seen as the reason, as to why, violent crime has dropped. (and received a better public image because of it) They just know the drug busts are the low a hanging fruit and pretty easy to attain, most of the time. Heck, they even bust doctors trying to treat pain patients. That is because, as we all know, the cops and prosecutors, have much more education in pain management than the doctors!

Convoluted posting

I'm sorry I wasn't clear lang, but when I said the strategy seems to be working I was referring to putting more cops in violent neighborhoods, not specifically arresting the "non-violent cannabis smoker." That is not to say that all cannabis smokers are non-violent, as a matter of fact, many people who are originally approached solely for smoking are found to have illegal weapons, warrants, have participated in crimes, etc. I really wish we could have access to the criminal histories of people arrested for smoking in violent areas, it may give a hint as to why they were arrested. Also, please don't believe that framing hapless marijuana smokers is the only thing all these cops are doing in high crime areas, The violent criminals are going to jail, sometimes they just make it easy by smoking pot on top of everything else.
As for the reasons for the reduction in violent crime: NYC has led the rest of the country for most of the last ten years and still does. Even among really logical reasons like the removal of lead paint and President Obama's election, most experts give improved police deployment/better police accountability a little piece of the credit. If you don't, I'm not sure you are aware of the changes that the NYPD has undergone. I'm pretty sure cops' public image is doing reasonably well, outside of ridiculous articles like the one found above.


If you think cops' images are dong fine, that answers the reasons for your post! Clueless!? Maybe you are too isolated. The, cops doing their job, argument won't cut it, with me in reference to decreased crime. Too much stuff on the internet showing bad behavior! Intimidation imposed by a cop turning on his red light is pure fear! And, it seems to be that I, more often, see people who call the cops, ending up as victims! Maybe there needs to be a poll about what people think of our modern police forces. But, you sure as heck can't run that poll from a site like this!

And New York city....... maybe a great place to visit!

Police reputation not good, anywhere

The people do NOT trust the cops, and that attitude is almost universal across the country. The reason for that mistrust is due to both the atrocious actions of some cops (and with the silence of the rest about the misconduct of those some), and the excesses (and inexcusable errors) committed in the way Prohibition 2.0, better known as the war on some drugs, is conducted.

The fault is solely with the cops and it will only change when the cops change their attitudes. Too few cops are members of LEAP and/or Oathkeepers, and too many remain behind the "Thin Blue Whine", refusing to call out or report their fellow cops who are blatantly doing wrong and doing harm.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Police image/reputation

Believe it or not police image doing well outside of the enlightened sites of the internet. A July 2009 Quinnipiac Poll has their approval rating at 64%, not bad for mindless drug warriors only worried about surpressing minority rights.


I would not be bragging about 64%!

I have never been in trouble in my life! But, I have been bullied by a cop in a town of 7,000, so it is not just a problem in the big city. If I had not bent over and grovelled to him, I would have been arrested, for muttering something under my breath, that he could not even hear clearly enough to understand! And, it was nothing derogatory about the cop, either! He thought he was the winner, because I kissed his butt. Well, it resulted in me not getting arrested, so I guess the pussy-fied act worked!

Oh, and none of the encounter had to do with drugs.

I bet people would be concerned to see an airline pilot with a 64% approval! And polls are not real reliable at getting at the truth. They are manipulated just like scientific research is, in today's world!


Happy New Year to all. May it bring us peace.

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