On Tuesday, July 27th, 2021, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez dismissed 3,578 marijuana-related cases from the docket. This sweeping move that clears all but eight of the borough’s remaining cannabis cases was accompanied by a powerful press release that clearly acknowledges Gonzalez’s intentions to continue walking in the footsteps of his predecessors, who were long on the same righteous path.
The 3,500+ cases cleared by the DA’s office yesterday were mostly related to open warrants, some of which date back all the way to the 1970s. “I asked the court to dismiss over 3,500 warrant cases that remained in the system, effectively clearing the Brooklyn docket from these vestiges of previous policing and prosecution,” Gonzalez said in his press release. He goes on to say how he hopes this move will boost the community’s trust in their local justice system, but the main objective of this move is clearly related to the communities that have been most affected by cannabis prohibition and subsequent mass incarceration: people of color.
But New York isn’t the only state who seems to finally be facing the realities of these skewed arrest percentages. Earlier this month, we reported on disgraceful news from Colorado that revealed, “the arrest rate for Colorado’s Black residents (160 per 100,000) is more than double that of White residents (76 per 100,000).” This pervasive issue is present across the nation, and moves like these from Gonzalez in New York are encouraging as we forge our way toward full reformation, equality, equity, and true justice.
As you can see from the outright of his statement, shown above in a shortened Twitter post version, Gonzalez is explicit that he’s aware of and actively working to dismantle and reverse the overwhelming prejudice in cannabis policing and legal action. The full press release mentions how this move is in keeping with the actions of his predecessor, the late Ken Thompson, who “stopped prosecuting marijuana possession cases in Brooklyn in 2014.” When Gonzalez was acting DA in 2017, he continued to refuse to prosecute nearly all marijuana smoking cases. Today, he’s making sweeping moves to continue this honorable work that aims to benefit the overwhelming number of people of color who made up over 90% of those open cannabis warrants. While far too many were arrested for something as simple as rolling up a blunt wrap in the park, this substantial news is a ray of hope for everyone.
DA Gonzalez’s actions are but the latest cannabis-related news to come out of New York state. Just a few days ago, information came from Bart R. Johnson, the TSA and federal security director of 15 various NY airports, that they aren’t actively looking for marijuana in traveler’s luggage. For a state that only within this past year voted to legalize recreational marijuana, New York is already making big moves in a positive direction, while remaining focused on public safety. The only eight cannabis cases that remain on the DA’s docket are DUI cases involving marijuana, which are clear instances of public endangerment.