The Slatest

New York City Plans to End Arrests for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

A marijuana-law-reform protest in New York City in July.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York City—a generally liberal city whose marijuana laws have remained notoriously strict even as drug policies have been reformed in other areas of the country—may begin instructing police officers to issue tickets to individuals found in possession of marijuana rather than arresting them. The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein has the scoop:

People found with small amounts of marijuana would be issued court summonses and be allowed to continue on their way without being handcuffed and taken to station houses for fingerprinting.

The change would remake the way the police in New York City handle the most common drug offenses and would represent Mayor Bill de Blasio’s most significant effort since taking office to address the enduring effects of the department’s excessive stop-and-frisk practices.

Key questions about the policy remain unanswered, the Times reports, including whether public use of marijuana will be treated the same as possession and whether marijuana tickets will be recorded on citizens’ criminal records.