DA Eric Gonzalez sees the success of his policy as an indication that enforcement changes can be made without jeopardizing public safety.

Photo credit: Houston Defender

Prosecution of low-level marijuana offenses in Brooklyn plummeted by over 90 percent in the first half of 2018, announced Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Friday. The drastic decline was caused by the expansion of a pilot policy on low-level marijuana offenses to include cases of smoking in public, stated Gonzalez.

The DA’s office also reported a 60 percent decline in marijuana arrests. Gonzalez plans to continue to decline to prosecute minor marijuana offenses unless an individual is posing a threat to public safety.

Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez
Photo Credit: Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office

“Earlier this year, we expanded our existing non-prosecution policy to include smoking cases,” said Gonzalez. “That pilot policy proved to be effective in dramatically reducing the number of low-level marijuana cases processed in court, freeing resources and strengthening trust in the justice system.”

The pilot policy already took shape under the late DA Ken Thompson and his then-Chief Assistant District Attorney Gonzalez; the city followed suit earlier this May when Mayor Bill de Blasio directed the NYPD to give summonses to people they catch smoking in public instead of arresting them. Gonzalez sees the success of his policy as an indication these enforcement changes can be made without jeopardizing public safety.

“Aggressive enforcement and prosecution of personal possession and use of marijuana does not keep us safer, and the glaring racial disparities in who is and is not arrested have contributed to a sense among many in our communities that the system is unfair,” said Gonzalez. “Our policy, in turn, contributes to a lack of trust in law enforcement, which makes us all less safe.”

The DA predicts that the number of prosecuted cases will be reduced further once the NYPD implements its new protocols which are set to take effect this fall.


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