Drug War

NYC Police Commissioner Tells Cops to Stop Arresting Pot Smokers for Following Instructions


This week New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, responding to criticism of the city's crackdown on pot smokers, issued a directive that instructs officers to stop arresting people for publicly displaying marijuana after tricking them into committing that offense. Well, that's not quite the way he put it. Here is what he said:

The specific circumstances in question include occasions when the officers recover marihuana pursuant to a search of the subject's person or upon direction of the subject to surrender the contents of his/her pockets or other closed container. A crime will not be charged to an individual who is requested or compelled to engage in the behavior that results in the public display of marihuana….To support a charge [of public display], the public display of marihuana must be an activity undertaken of the subject's own volition. Thus, uniformed members of the service lawfully exercising their police powers during a stop may not charge the individual with [public display] if the marihuana recovered was disclosed to public view at an officer's discretion.

In New York state, possessing up to 25 grams (nearly an ounce) of marijuana is a citable offense akin to a traffic violation, but publicly displaying marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor. Research by Queens College sociologist Harry Levine suggests that New York City police routinely pad their arrest numbers by converting the former offense into the latter, either by removing marijuana in the course of a pat-down or by asking/telling people they stop to empty their pockets, backpacks, or purses. Kelly is telling them to cut it out.

Strange that it took so long. As Levine has shown, marijuana possession arrests increased dramatically under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, mainly as an outgrowth of a "stop and frisk" program that targets black and Hispanic neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, the arrestees are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. In New York blacks are five times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites, even though survey data indicate they are no more likely to smoke pot.

Kelly's directive may be aimed at pre-empting a legislative solution. Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and state Sen. Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) have introduced a bill that would treat public display the same as possession for small amounts of marijuana, thereby reducing the opportunity for phony-baloney arrests.

[Thanks to Eric Sterling for the tip.]

NEXT: Do Cops Need a Warrant to Track Down Your Cell Phone?

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  1. A crime will not be charged to an individual who is requested or compelled to engage in the behavior that results in the public display of marihuana


    1. OT: Iowa high school sells insurance to clean up toilet papered houses after homecoming. So at least one school still teaches creative problem solving.

  2. The NYC liberals are so busy congratulating themselves for supporting Obama they don’t have time to protest the police.

  3. That’s mighty white of him.

    1. Nice to see the Bacon Brigade in NYC hauled into the 20th century….

  4. marihuana

    OK, we’re obligated to run some “negro jazz musician” bits in this pot thread.

    I prefer the three-hundred-pound-vegetarian-nerdo-with-a-ponytail brand of weed jokes, but…COME ON.

  5. Well that’s a classy thing to do. I’m confused. They should just decriminalize public display as well.

  6. Good call, public display has to have some element of, you know, volition. As opposed to obeying an order from a cop. As a practical matter, it’s not like you can *voluntarily* keep your weed from view.

    “No, officer, I refuse to show you what’s making that bulge in my pockets…”


    1. Don’t be ridiculous. It would be:


      1. You forgot about “STOP RESISTING”

      2. BANG!

        You had one left – welcome!

      3. After they killed that security guard, I considered always carrying drugs so I’d have something to give plainclothes cops so they wouldn’t kill me for not carrying drugs.

  7. Looking to avoid a lawsuit is more like it.

  8. Am I the only one on Reason that really, really dislikes NY, especially NYC? It’s a damned trash heap. It’s like a red state without any of the economic or gun rights.

    1. Have you ever lived there? Have you ever even been there? Because while there are many negatives to NYC (and NY State), there are also a lot of great things about the city (not so much the state).

      1. Why is that always the response if you don’t like NYC?

        “Welllll, you’ve probably never even been there!”

        That kind of living just ain’t for everybody.

      2. I haven’t lived there, but I’ve been there. Never said it didn’t have pluses.

      3. As a bay area resident who has been to NYC, I sure as hell wish OUR bars were open until 4am.

        1. 4am is when the party is just getting started in Miami. The REALLY good clubs haven’t even opened at 4.

      4. Yeah, I’d say the same for the Bay Area. Folks do their damnedest to ruin it, but places can be good in spite of bad governance.

      5. I lived there and it’s a shit hole. Sure, it’s great if you’re loaded. It’s a place where you have the richest people in the world stepping over those who have lost even their last vestige of humanity. It was very exciting when I first got there. You can get the best of anything in the world there. But, for me, it was a vast sea of nameless humanity. A million faces you will never see more than once. Of course, this is true of any big city. Certainly there were many things I loved about it, but when you have nothing it’s a hell hole.

      6. My son-in-law is from Buffalo and he would disagree with you.

        He likes upstate new York but HATES the city of NY. I agree with hm. NYC sucks big time. And I have been to NYC several times.

      7. I have been there several times. To the city and the state. Upstate is nice, lovely even, for a vacation. The City is a cesspool of thug cops and nanny statists. And it is filled with assholes that think it is the greatest place on earth and you must be retard if you don’t agree. FUCK NYC!

      8. New York Jurisdiction is a fucking giant slime puddle filled with rat shit and cigarette butts. Half of the place smells like a bum’s socks, and the other half smells like Indian food. At least Chicago is pretty clean, comparatively.

    2. NYC has the best food in the country.

      1. Clearly, you’ve never been to Houston. We were the nation’s fattest city for nothing.

        1. I have been to Houston. I had some great steaks there, but NYC is still better.

      2. New York has a lot of average food, I can cherry pick a few superb exceptions in just about any moderately sized town.

  9. The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 (H.R. 2306) would
    give states the freedom they need to enact marijuana policy reforms. It
    would dramatically reduce the role of the federal government in
    marijuana prohibition by limiting its involvement to situations in
    which marijuana is shipped into a state in violation of that state’s
    laws. This is similar to the federal government’s role in alcohol

    You might want to write your congress person and ask that they sponsor this bill…

    1. Like I’m going to vote for something because some pothead sent me a letter…

      1. I admit that is the response I expect. But I just love pushing on ropes.

  10. New York has the following Statues:

    221-05: Unlawful Possession
    221-10: Criminal Possession

    What is the difference, 221-05 means you merely possess less than 25grams of Pot. 221-10 states that the Pot is in public view…that is, you are smoking it in public or you are showing it around in public.

    The Spirit of 221-10 was to STOP people from smoking in public. Even I believe that people should NOT smoke in public.

    Do u wanna hear the TRUTH?

    Possession in public view must be done with CRIMINAL INTENT. That is, you must have it in public view knowingly that having it in public view is 221-10.

    When an officer, during a legal contact, asks you to show them your Pot…there is NO CRIMINAL INTENT. As a result, the charges are DROPPED. That is, if you know the law. That is, every time u r arrested for 221-10, you an easily beat it if you were NOT SMOKING IN PUBLIC and the weed was in a container or your pocket.

    The COPS target BLACKS/LATINO and Poor/Ghetto whites because they know that it won’t matter.

    Many affluent people (regardless of race) and those in the KNOW in NYC are aware that you merely have to spend a day (or two) in Central Booking and the Case will be dismiss. If the DA, for any reason gives you any bullshit and refuses to dismiss, you lawyer up, bring up the fact that there is NO CRIMINAL intent, and the case is dismissed.

    !!! KEEP DOPE ALIVE !!!

    1. “”When an officer, during a legal contact, asks you to show them your Pot…there is NO CRIMINAL INTENT. As a result, the charges are DROPPED.””

      Yeah, but you’ve already been arrested, processed, and spent some time in jail. You will have an arrest record. So the charges dropped just doesn’t cut it. Damage is done.

  11. Your’e not guilty just because I arrest you. Duh.

  12. No stupid, he’s guilty once dunphy puts on his latex gloves!

  13. People need to actively resist and if that means using violence in defense of your freedoms then so be it….it? is our right and duty to resist tyranny by protecting and defending ourselves,? our loved ones, our freedoms, and? anyone else we see being victimized or attacked by anyone? (criminals, regular citizens police, members of military, elected officials) by any means and if that means we must kill a cop, tsa, official or any other govt employee then so be it.
    Add Comment

    1. troll-o-meter: .0001

    2. The FBI is track’n u down…as we speak.

      1. Anonymous blogging is not as anonymous as u may think

    3. Dude, Homeland Security’s got you pegged — I’ll bet my bottom dollar on it. Pack your stuff and buy ammo, because shit’s about to get real.

    4. You know, what we need is a militia… A libertarian militia…

      Led by someone named terry perhaps?

      1. Terry and the Libertarian Militia

        Isn’t that one of those indie bands?

    5. Fool. See how long you are locked up for using a violent response. Heres a hint. It won’t be overnight.

  14. Do not legalize crack, cocaine, lsd, etc… not natural, why the other ARTIFICIAL NO MEDICAL POSIBILITY USE???
    And can not let you blog like this… deleted on many sites… of the drivebymediarrea beltway…:
    (thanks hitandrun):
    what they normaly now erase:

    no todo es politica, todavia creo en el Credo, etc, espero que Jupiter se encienda en una nueva estrella dorada al principio, azul despues, y por eternidades, casi eterno…
    que mas… ah!, si, repartir sable de luz a mis enemigos, aunque sean megapoderosos por lo que han hecho y hacen a los que YO DIGO QUE ES MI FAMILIA SANGUINEA POR Y O SER ANTI-terror, “empiezo por denunciar uso del estado para inducir sindrome de Estocolmo Y MAS QUE DETALLE AL PROPAGANDIZAR Teaparties, y dema… ya sabe, estar en contacto, lo contrario a lo que nos dicen, no hables de esto… con nadie…, “olvidate, caso cerrado…”, “no puedo hacer nada”…,, no es asi, entre mucho, escribo aqui para cada “doctroll” y policia que “averiguo lo que sea de cualquiera de nosotros y no vio a la castrocoyote de acorn lulu, los policias de alicia… los policias de lulu… o sea, usted seguira cooperando con doctores y policias (ademas de cada “politico”, que ahy si es politico, “si como no..”, si supieran que sus mundos son del siglo pasada, que si se les puede destruir ‘como por arte de magia’, mmm, ejemplo, denunciando y creando ‘donde se denuncia’ y dia a dia actualizando plan social de autoridad-ganster como el prd, cd, etc, lo que castro acepta, entonces, ahy esta la magia automatica que los autodestruye: globalizen cada uno, sobrepasenlos de sus amigos y sometidos, los que nos martirizan que caen como anamontes, enemiga peor que martin o narconelli (cre que una hija de ma noriega me siguio y todo, cuando paso la primera trastada de extraditar a ma noriega, casualmente, por eso se que sus palabras estaran medidas para insinuar la version de lulu sobre mi, mi mente, mis derechos humanos y lo demas que dije cuando me secuestraron gente de martin y narconelli, casualmente, disfrazados de doctores, muchos con pantalon de policia, tengo a?os de blogear eso…), o a los que denuncio por venir a hacerme lo que hacen a todo opositor, y esto nace de mis derechos humanos de religion… y a lo que yo digo que es de Dios… “etc’…, y al ser estratega anti-terrorista… bueno… por lo menos “les hago algo”…

    1. Viva la revolucion!

    2. not everything is politics, I still believe in the creed, etc. I hope that Jupiter turns into a new golden star at first, then blue, and for eternity, almost eternal …
      What else … ah, yes, lightsaber deliver my enemies, even megapoderosos for what they have done and are doing to which I SAY THAT IS MY BLOOD FAMILY FOR ME TO BE ANTI-terror, “I begin by denouncing use of the state to induce syndrome Stockholm AND THAT DETAIL THE Teaparties propagandizing, and too … you know, stay in touch, as opposed to what they say, do not talk with anyone about this … …, “Forget it, case closed .. ., “” I can not do anything “…,, it is not, among many, I write here for each “doctroll” and police to “find out anything any of us and did not see the acorn castrocoyote of lulu, alicia cops … lulu cops … that is, you will continue to cooperate with doctors and police officers (in addition to every “political”, that if political ahy, “if not .. as” if they knew that their worlds are last century, that if they can destroy ‘as by magic ‘, mmm, such as exposing and creating’ which he denounces’ and plan day to day social upgrading of authority like the PRD gangster, cd, etc, which accepts castro then ahy this automatic magic the self-destruct: globalizing each sobrepasenlos of his friends and submitted, we are falling like anamontes martyr, worst enemy or narconelli martin (growing a skate ma daughter followed me and all, when the first step to extradite prank ma skate, incidentally, is why his words will suggest measures to lulu version of myself, my mind, my human rights and what else I said when I was kidnapped and narconelli martin people casually dressed as doctors, many with police trousers, I have years of blogging that …), or who come to me to denounce what they do to any opponent, and this comes from my human rights to religion … and what I say is God … “etc. strategist’…, and being anti-terrorist … well … at least” they do something “…

  15. yes, I played a few trilion$ moregov end while blogging against mayoral varez- prd cd, acorn, “ETC”…
    see you…
    I’m sorry Kara…

  16. Ah!, “my” denounce still the same

  17. Stop and frisk is a form of outright tyranny. The collective conditioning of the neighborhoods minds that allow this insidious activity to occur on their streets is a startling reminder of just how malleable and controllable large groups of humans are.

    Stop and frisk is an authoritarian-enriched cancer.

    1. baseless hyperbole meter: .0002

      1. Baseless debunking grade: F

        If you are the real dunphy, then you have to know that what NYPD has been doing does not conform with the law. A Terry search is for weapons, and weapons only. Demanding the personal items after no weapons are found, without cause, is unlawful. Unlawful acts under color of authority I think would qualify as a tyranny.[See merriam-webster.com tyranny def. #4]

        Don’t believe the public mind is manipulated to accept major and minor tyrannies? You’re either not paying attention, or they’ve got you just about where they want you.

  18. Caption: “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!”

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