NYPD’s top cop told Metro “under no circumstances” will the department make any further reforms on how it deals with marijuana arrests.
“We’ve made all the concessions we’re making regarding marijuana,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Wednesday.
His resolve comes days after City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a handful of council members suggested to the de Blasio administration that the state and city should reconsider its marijuana policies.
Bratton explained that he and Mayor Bill de Blasio have “a very different perspective” on the issue than City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Repeating similar statements he made in March, Bratton suggested that there remains a link between some of the city’s most violent crime and the sale of marijuana.
“When we have a shooting or a murder, almost invariably you’re going to find marijuana associated with that — particularly the gang murders,” he said.
Alyssa Aguilera, policy director for advocacy and reform group VOCAL-NY, suggested Bratton’s statements were beyond flawed.
“Commissioner Bratton’s claim that marijuana is somehow related to crime and violence is irresponsible fear mongering and not based in reality,” Aguilera said Thursday. “If anything, legalizing marijuana will reduce violent crime, as it did in Colorado, by eliminating a need for an underground marijuana market.”
Aguilera also said that recent changes on NYPD policy towards marijuana have actually helped the city prevent needless criminalization.
In November, Bratton joined de Blasio to announce an increase of the threshold for how much pot one has to carry to be arrested. Police must find more than 25 grams of marijuana on a person unless he or she does not have a personal ID and has an outstanding warrant.
At the same time, Aguilera also took issue with Bratton’s refusal to link anti-marijuana laws with the citywide uptick in the use of synthetic marijuana, otherwise known as K2.
“We know that some people use K2 to avoid testing positive for marijuana — like if they are on probation, parole or in a methadone program,” she said.
K2 usage has been particularly high in East Harlem, which falls under Council Speaker Mark-Viverito’s district. On Tuesday, the speaker was one in a small choir of council members who urged the administration to reevaluate its marijuana policies.
“This is an opportunity to look at issues of marijuana policy that might be driving folks to this dangerous drug,” Mark-Viverito said of the K2 scourge that has led to multiple crackdowns on users in upper Manhattan and the Bronx.
The speaker voiced her support for measured adoption of legalization in November.
However, Bratton poured cold water on the idea that legalization of one drug will abate abuse of another.
The commissioner responded: “You can legalize every drug and I guarantee you they’ll find another illegal drug to use.”