Police Commissioner Tells Cops To Weed Out Small-Pot Busts

Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an internal order this week that will stop cops from making arrests for small amounts of marijuana, unless the drugs were in public view.

A police spokesman confirmed the operations order and said possessing marijuana in public view is a misdemeanor and an arrestable offense, but marijuana discovered during a police search is a violation punishable by a ticket.

The issue of people being arrested for possessing marijuana in public view after being told by police officers to empty their pockets has been criticized by both media outlets and civil-rights groups.

“The practice of entrapping people into pulling out small amounts of marijuana was improper,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “We believe the police department improperly targeted black and Latino communities.”

The operations order, a copy of which was first obtained by public radio station WNYC, said questions have been raised about the processing of certain marijuana arrests and that police officers may not make an arrest if the marijuana was exposed to public view at their direction.

The NYPD considers a small amount of pot to be less than 25 grams, which is just under an ounce.
“Kelly’s order . . . should result in tens of thousands fewer marijuana arrests every year,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive direc-tor of the Drug Policy Alliance.

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