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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Past Resources of the Week

ROTW:Reefer Madness: The Unfair Consequences of Marijuana Arrests in NY State

Monday, February 02, 2015

Arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana are a huge problem across New York State. In New York City, year after year it is the most frequent reason a person is arrested. Statewide, New York’s marijuana arrest rate of 535 arrests per 100,000 people was the highest of any state in 2010 and double the national average. Black New Yorkers bear the brunt of these arrests despite government research that shows that white people use marijuana at higher rates than black people do. Across the state, black New Yorkers are 4.5 times more likely to be arrested for pot than white New Yorkers.
Although arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana are common, their impact can be devastating. The consequences are often surprisingly drastic and completely disproportionate to the offense. Every aspect of a person’s life can be impacted by a marijuana arrest, including eligibility for public housing and student financial aid, job opportunities, child custody and even immigration status. Marijuana arrests are also financially burdensome, often coming with mandatory court fees, fines, costly legal services and court appearances that require time away from work and school or interfere with paying for child care.

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