New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to instruct NYPD to stop arrests of New Yorkers smoking weed in public while additionally forming a task force to ease what he sees as an inevitable full-on legalization of recreational marijuana.
De Blasio will direct the New York Police Department to hand out summonses -- and not arrest -- people caught smoking pot by officers in public areas across the city, aides told the New York Daily News Sunday. The move is partially a follow-up on his announcement last week to "overhaul and reform" enforcement that has created a wide racial disparity in marijuana arrests. But both de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both critics of legalization, appear to be preparing the entire state for a legalization of marijuana they see as an inevitable policy shift regardless of their actions. "With marijuana legalization likely to occur in our state in the near future, it is critical our city plans for the public safety, health, and financial consequences involved," he told the New York Daily News. "While I still have real concerns we must work through, it isn't difficult to see where this is headed, and any responsible policymaker must prepare for that eventuality. My focus now will be helping to craft the critical regulatory framework that must come before legalization is realized."