A Sensible Marijuana Policy in Brooklyn
Kenneth Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney, served both justice and common sense this week when he announced that he would no longer prosecute most cases in which people are arrested or ticketed for small amounts of marijuana. Such cases are usually dismissed. But by keeping thousands of them from going to court at all, Mr. Thompson will have more resources to devote to fighting serious crime. The new policy will also prevent the young minority men who are most of those arrested from getting criminal records that deny them jobs, housing or entry into armed services.
New York has been wrestling with the marijuana enforcement problem for several decades. In 1977, for example, the State Legislature sought to cut down on arrests and relieve pressure on the court system by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. The law made possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a noncriminal violation akin to a parking ticket, punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense. Possession of marijuana in public view was made a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.