More than 3,500 marijuana cases in Brooklyn have been tossed out, some dating as far back as the 1970s, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Tuesday.
The move comes after New York State legalized marijuana in March. Since then, almost all marijuana cases in Brooklyn have been dismissed, Gonzalez said.
“For too long, criminalization of marijuana has disproportionately impacted young people and communities of color whose members made up about 90% of those arrested,” he said.
“These arrests ruined the lives of thousands of people over the years, saddling many with criminal convictions that prevented them from pursuing opportunities in life.”
He said that was the reason why his office stopped prosecuting possession cases in 2014 and went further in 2017, declining prosecution of nearly all smoking cases as well. A year later, the office also moved to dismiss warrant cases.
Gonzalez said he was “gratified” that the New York Legislature legalized marijuana earlier this year in a bill that included an automatic expungement provision.
“Since its passage, my office has moved to dismiss open cases and stated we will no longer bring pending marijuana charges before grand or petit juries.”
He said he hoped that the clearing of the 3,578 old cases would “help strengthen community trust in the justice system and allow us to continue moving forward with more fairness and equity.”
Currently, only eight cases that include marijuana charges remain in Brooklyn Criminal Court; they involve allegations of driving while impaired.
In Supreme Court, marijuana charges that are included in more serious felony cases will be dismissed in the course of court proceedings and those charges will not be brought before any jury, Gonzalez said.
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