While opposition to marijuana prohibition has risen in recent years; yet under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration New York City has dramatically stepped up its marijuana arrests. The NYPD now spends a huge amount of police time and money arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses.

Not surprisingly given the racist ways drug laws have been applied in this country, almost everyone arrested in the city for low-level marijuana offenses happens to be a young black or Latino. From the Drug Policy Alliance’s report:

Recently released figures by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services show that in 2010, the New York City Police Department arrested 50,383 people for low-level marijuana offenses. Arrests for low-level marijuana possession offenses are the number one arrest in New York City, making up 15 percent of all arrests. [...]

Over the last twenty years, NYPD has quietly made arrests for marijuana their top enforcement priority, without public acknowledgement or debate. This is the sixth year in a row with an increase in marijuana possession arrests. In 2005, there were 29,752 such arrests, and in 2010, there were 50,383, a 41 69 percent increase. Since Michael Bloomberg came into office in 2002, there have been 350,000 arrests for low-level marijuana offenses in NYC.

Almost 70 percent of those arrested are younger than 30 years old. 86 percent of those arrested are Black or Latino, even though research consistently shows that young whites use marijuana at higher rates.

This follows the well-established trend in this country where talk of being “tough on crime” or “tough on drugs” equates to being selectively tough on young minorities.

Update - The article mistakenly reported a 41% increase when in fact it was a 69% increase.