How DA candidates would reform marijuana prosecution

June 10, 2013 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Earlier, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the candidates for Brooklyn District Attorney and their stance on the criminalization of marijuana possession.

While each candidate agrees that there should be an effort to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view by treating those offenses as non-criminal violations rather than a misdemeanor, the tack each would take towards that goal varies.  

Presently, private possession of marijuana is a violation with a maximum fine of  $100 for the first offense. Public display of marijuana, on the other hand, is a misdemeanor. A law has been proposed in Albany to treat private possession and public display of marijuana as a violation.

The office of the current Brooklyn DA, Charles Hynes, says its path to decriminalization is to use prosecutorial discretion in the decision to prosecute or dismiss possession and public display charges.  “[In 2012] we declined to prosecute and dismissed in court over 71 percent of cases that would be affected by the new law,” Hynes’ office asserts.

Aaron Rubin, campaign manager for Abe George’s run for Brooklyn DA, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle ,“Abe George is the only candidate who will take prompt and direct action to use his prosecutorial discretion, starting on day one, to treat the possession of small amounts of marijuana in open view as non-criminal violations instead of misdemeanors.”

Thompson’s campaign contends that the correct and more effective way to proceed with decriminalization is to review each marijuana possession and display arrests on a case-by-case basis while simultaneously continuing to push aggressively to change the state law—a push the campaign believes will “end [the disparity] injustice once and for all.”

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