Marijuana Arrest Crusade, Racial Bias and Police Policy in New York City: 1997 – 2007

Harry G. Levine and Deborah Peterson Small

This paper explores the New York City (NYC) marijuana arrest epidemic of the last decade. From 1997 to 2006, the New York City Police Department arrested and jailed more than 353,000 people simply for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This was eleven times more marijuana arrests than in the previous decade, and ten times more than in the decade before that. Through deconstructing the most recent statistical data and complemented with interviews from the NYPD and other authorities, this paper documents the reasoning behind the massive increase of arrests for smoking marijuana in public view (MPV).

New York Civil Liberties Union
Reducing the Harms of Marijuana Prohibition
New York