If Brooklyn’s new district attorney has his way, marijuana will effectively be decriminalized in the borough. In his inaugural address on Sunday, Ken Thompson vowed to end the prosecution of low-level marijuana arrests.
“I not only want to keep Brooklyn safe, I want to protect the future of our youth,” Thompson, who is the borough’s first black district attorney, said. “That means we must change the policy regarding those who are arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.”
“In 2012, over 12,000 people in Brooklyn were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly young, black men,” he said, referring to a 2013 report that found that in Brooklyn, black people are nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana in New York is only a crime if it’s in public view. New York City averaged fewer than 2,000 marijuana arrests a year up until 1993. But under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, police would stop and frisk people on the street, bringing marijuana into “public view” and arresting them. By 2011, there were over 50,000 such arrests citywide, more than all the marijuana arrests from 1978 to 1996 combined.
“Every year, thousands of these cases are clogging our criminal justice system and require that we devote substantial resources in time and in money that we could use to put toward other initiatives to keep us safe,” Thompson said. “And so if these defendants are given criminal records instead of violations, it would make it harder for them in the future to live productive lives. We in Brooklyn can, and must, do better.”
During his run for district attorney, Thompson pledged not to prosecute people arrested for under 15 grams of pot, issuing a $100 fine instead. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is on board with Thompson’s plan.
“He can’t pass legislation to legalize marijuana but he can decide who will be prosecuted for it, and I think it’s an excellent way to use his office,” Adams said.
Most Ridiculous Story of the Week: “Devout Christian Mom” Dies From Smoking Weed
Headlines about the “devout Christian mother of three” who died from “cannabis poisoning” have circulated far and wide this week after a coroner confirmed that the autopsy found no natural cause for her death and it is “more likely than not that she died from the effects of cannabis.”
Gemma Moss, 31, who died with “moderate to heavy levels” of cannabinoids in her blood according to pathologist Dr. Kudair Hussein, was a frequent marijuana user before quitting two years before her death last October. She had started using marijuana again to help her sleep after becoming depressed from a recent breakup. Moss is known to have suffered from depression and was on prescription drugs, though according to the coroner, it did not appear she was taking them at the time of her death. Half a joint was found underneath her body when the ambulance arrived on the night of her death.
The reason why every major media outlet from BBC News to the International Business Times has picked up this story is, obviously, because death by marijuana hasn’t come around since Reefer Madness. It’s shocking because it just doesn’t happen.
“From half a joint? That’s ridiculous,” professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Dr. Yasmin Hurd told the Daily News. Dr. Bradley Flansbaum, a hospitalist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said it would be “very, very, very unlikely to get a lethal dose of marijuana if it wasn’t adulterated with something.” Both said that a marijuana death is only possible if it has been laced with another, harder drug, or if an underlying heart condition or similar ailment were exacerbated by the rush or anxiety from toking up.
Moss’ story flies in the face of decades of medical research. According to a report on the toxicity of recreational drugs published by the American Scientist, a person would need to consume more than 1,000 times the effective dose in order to die from marijuana. The report found no published cases that document deaths from smoking marijuana, which it said is safer than getting drunk. It would take just 10 times the amount (of enough alcohol to get buzzed) in order to die from alcohol poisoning.
Stories like these play on the fears of marijuana prohibitionists who cling to whatever evidence they can find that marijuana is harmful. But tell that to Colorado and Washington, where voters (including Bill Gates) legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and the 20 U.S. states that have approved medical marijuana, with more states in the process of passing similar legislation. And let’s not forget to mention Uruguay, the first country to legalize marijuana across the board. Even President Obama, a well-documented former pot smoker, said pot is less dangerous than alcohol.
So let the prohibitionists ride out this sensationalist blip of a story. It’s all they’ve got, since it’s pretty clear what we know about marijuana in this day and age, and it’s definitely not that it’s going to kill you. Just ask the reddittors over at r/trees.
Ok so I’m not a doctor and have no medical training whatsoever but this part got me,
"She suffered from depression and was on prescription drugs to try and deal with that although it would not appear she was taking them at the time of her death."
What that says to me is that she had the scripts and was taking it but stopped. She clearly didn’t stop because of a doctor because if theres none in her system she was weaned off and wouldn’t have a script for it.
Now I’ve been on all kinds of medication for shit and sometimes it fucks with your heart or other vital organs so you cant just fucking stop them because shit gets real with the withdrawl. I was taking a pill for ptsd when I was smoking heavily and I had the great idea to just smoke a bowl before bed instead of taking it and in couple days I landed myself in the hospital with symptoms of a heart attack and shit was a little fucked up. I’m 18 and had no heart problems before it. I had to take the medicine again and then get weaned off it. It wasn’t the pot it was the lack of prescription drugs. Her depression med, while being for depression, may have very well been effecting her heart. Just listen to that quiet ass part of adds for pills and theres hella risks by just taking it and suddenly not fucks shit up more.
The coroner should look into her medicine and see when she stopped to clear that up.
Did you catch the #SOTU? Our cartoonist Matt Wuerker’s interpretation.
In his home state of Washington, the richest man in America voted “yes” on I-502, the 2012 referendum that legalized marijuana. Gates said he didn’t expect the law to pass, but that now “it will be interesting to see” how the program develops. “It’s an experiment, and it’s probably good to have a couple states try it out to see before you make that national policy,” he told BuzzFeed on Tuesday.
He added that traffickers “are going to make a lot less money, and some of the perverse things about the illegal drug trade will be avoided.”
While at Harvard in the early Seventies, weed was Gates’ “pharmaceutical of choice” and he would occasionally “go off to the country and spend time contemplating the universe” with his roommate Sam Znaimer.
Drake as Katt Williams on SNL
"Nancy, I am from Atlanta. But if weed is gonna be legal up here in Colorado, then consider me forever Rocky Mountain high, baby."