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Could New York hold the record for most pot possession arrests? A new report out Tuesday said police there spent about a million hours taking offenders into custody between 2002 and 2012.
The findings by the Drug Policy Alliance, which favors the decriminalization of the substance, was done at the request of members of the city council and the state legislature.
It shows that between 2002 and 2012, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the helm of the metropolis, 439,056 people were arrested for the possession of marijuana. Eighty-five percent were young blacks and Latinos.
Considering that one police officer takes at least two and a half hours to process such arrests -- returning to the police station, gathering information, writing up a report, taking fingerprints, photos, etc -- that adds up to more than a million hours of work on the matter, the report said.
"That is the equivalent of having 31 police officers working eight hours a day, 365 days a year, for 11 years, making only marijuana possession arrests," the group said, highlighting that during this time officers don't devote themselves to dealing with other "serious crime."
Fighting pot possession costs $75 million a year, the group said, noting that, over the eleven-year period, those arrested spent five million hours in detention.
"We cannot afford to continue arresting tens of thousands of youth every year for low-level marijuana possession," said Alfredo Carrasquillo, civil rights organizer with VOCAL-NY.
The report was released as Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and the state legislature are negotiating changes to the law on marijuana possession.
Cuomo wants to decriminalize the possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana in public view.