New York City Is Hell for Pot Smokers

I don’t have much to say about this. The racial disparity, particularly in sentencing is troubling:

Of the more than 395,000 defendants busted in New York City since 1980 for puffing or possessing pot in public, nearly 336,000 of them (85 percent) were either African-American or Hispanic. By contrast, African-Americans and Hispanics together comprise approximately half of the city’s population.

The unequal treatment of minorities for misdemeanor pot crimes is not just limited to arrests, the study finds. Investigators also report that African-Americans were 2.66 times as likely as whites to be detained in jail pending arraignment while Hispanics were nearly twice as likely. In addition, both groups were twice as likely as whites to receive a conviction — and criminal record — for public pot possession. Compared to Caucasians, African-Americans were four times as likely and Hispanics were three times as likely to receive jail time.

The other reaction I have is that the relevant laws seem to already be pretty permissive:

(Although the possession of less than 25 grams of pot is punishable under state law by a fine-only civil citation, New York Statute 221.10 defines the possession or use of marijuana “open to public view” as a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up five days in jail.)

Possession is of less than 25 grams is subject to a fine? (That’s one ounce of weed!) Smoking weed in public is subject to up to 5 days? As acknowledged frequently on this blog, reasonable people can disagree about whether pot should be legalized, but these laws are hardly draconian or oppressive. Is it so hard to smoke your weed in private?

I guess I had more to say than I thought.

UPDATE-I got the following comment from a friend:

Jason, I’m sorry but I had to laugh, because I’m guessing that to the average American who is not experienced with buying drugs – an ounce of weed sounds like enough for, not much, maybe a joint. I didn’t comprehend how much an ounce of weed was until [someone I know] got busted with an ounce and the nice police officer explained why they tossed him in jail.

An ounce is a lot of weed. It’s 30 to 60 joints depending on who you ask. According to Erowid, the price for an ounce varies from $120 to $480 and generally could get 160 to 240 people moderately high.