NYPD ‘Buy-and-Bust’ Pot Plan Goes Up in Smoke

The latest sign that marijuana is having its moment

The NYPD is cutting down on pot arrests, as legal and public opinion on legalizing marijuana has grown more positive. (Photo credit: Getty)

The NYPD has halted a program that used arrests for marijuana possession as a front to seize guns and close outstanding warrants. City cops were told to cease these “buy-and-bust” searches so as to arrest fewer minorities, and thus gain minority support.

So far in 2014, 86 percent of those arrested for pot possession in New York City have been blacks or Hispanics, nearly exceeding numbers under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In fact, arrest numbers between March and August were higher than during the same period last year.

Brian McCarthy, city chief of narcotics, thinks cops have bigger fish to fry.

“We have to focus on controlled substances,” Mr. McCarthy told The New York Post. “There’s a pill and heroin problem in the city.”

This stance contradicts the “broken windows” police tactic so beloved by Commissioner Bill Bratton, which focuses on stopping smaller crimes before they morph into more serious ones.

Despite this, an NYPD source told the Post that the department is “wasting time and manpower” on pot arrests, because “cops are putting themselves in harm’s way for nothing.”

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association, has a very different view.

“If the current practice of making arrests for both possession and sale of marijuana is, in fact, abandoned, then this is clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society,” Mr. Mullins told the Post.

The strong feelings on both sides of this drug debate have actually flared up at an opportune time, because New York pot lovers now have their own legal advocates.

Hemp Public Relations describes itself in a press release as “a new firm that will help individuals & businesses in the legal marijuana industry to achieve greater visibility in the public eye through the media.”

Using social media, TV, radio and newspapers, the New York-based firm aims to take advantage of the fact that “favorable public perception on legal marijuana is growing by the day,” as its website states.

Weed is certainly a winner in voters’ minds right now—yesterday Oregon and Alaska legalized recreational marijuana use.

So, New Yorkers: If you want legal weed, move to Oregon. NYPD ‘Buy-and-Bust’ Pot Plan Goes Up in Smoke