NYC to stop many small-time marijuana arrests.
NEW YORK -- Thousands of people carrying small amounts of marijuana may no longer be arrested or face criminal charges, city officials announced Monday, marking a significant shift in how the nation's biggest city approaches policing pot.
Instead of being arrested on misdemeanor charges that carry potential punishments of up to three months in jail, many people will get court summonses and face non-criminal violations punishable by fines starting at $100, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton said.
While state law makes it a misdemeanor to have up to 25 grams -- about a sandwich bag - of marijuana in ''public view,'' the mayor characterized stopping such arrests as an enforcement choice.
He said it would give police officers time to pursue more serious crime and spare people from the consequences of arrest records for cases that often end up getting dismissed.
It's ''a smart policy that keeps New Yorkers safe, but it is also a more fair policy,'' said de Blasio, a first-term Democrat who's faced pressure to keep campaign promises to reduce the more than 20,000 such arrests per year.
Under a 1977 state law, it's only a violation to have up to 25 grams of marijuana in a pocket or bag, but the offense rises to a misdemeanor if the pot is being smoked or is ''open to public view.''
The new policy is set to take effect Nov. 19.