Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced on Tuesday that his office will no longer prosecute most charges for the use or possession of marijuana. Beginning Wednesday, prosecutors will not file charges for such offenses committed in New York City.
A release from the district attorney’s office outlining the new policy listed two possible exceptions. Offenders observed selling cannabis or caught with marijuana packaged for individual sales could be charged with possession if a case for sales could not be established.
Additionally, individuals who pose a demonstrated threat to public safety could also face possession or use charges. “Examples include a defendant currently under active investigation for a violent offense or other serious crime,” according to the district attorney’s new guidelines.
When low-level marijuana charges are prosecuted, “Assistant District Attorneys must state on the record at arraignment that ‘the case falls within one of the limited exceptions to our marijuana policy,’” according to the release.
The district attorney’s office distributed a memo detailing the new “decline to prosecute” policy to Manhattan assistant DAs last week. The NYPD, the Office of Court Administration, and public defenders have also been notified of the changes.
Under the new policy, the district attorney’s office expects prosecutions for