A new policy has been put into effect making you less likely to get arrested for smoking herb in public. This follows a report by the city’s Department of Health, which endorsed legalizing recreational Marijuana because of its many benefits. Finally, we have some progress concerning New York's battle to legalize the usage of marijuana. This is good news for New York, a state that can really use a bit of chilling out.

Although the recreational use of marijuana is still (unfortunately) illegal in New York State, a new plan was implemented by the NYPD this past Saturday, September 1. Officers are now able to decide whether or not they will arrest people caught smoking marijuana.

In some case, arrests will be made. These cases include anyone caught driving while smoking, those with outstanding warrants, and/or anyone who refuses to show identification when requested by an officer. However, those with a clean record found smoking marijuana in public are likely to receive a court summons rather than an arrest. According to NBC New York, you can have up to 25 grams of the drug in your possession and still qualify for a summons. That said, however, a summons could result in a $100 fine.

I’ll smoke to that

Officials claim that this new policy was implemented due to the fact that most arrests pertaining to marijuana have nothing to do with public safety. There have also been numerous complaints of racial profiling associated with these petty arrests.

According to NBC New York, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez stated: "The glaring racial disparities in who is and is not arrested have contributed to a sense among many in our communities that the system is unfair. This, in turn, contributes to a lack of trust in law enforcement, which makes us all less safe." The New York Times also reported that African-Americans were eight times more likely to be arrested on low-level marijuana charges.

With this new policy in effect, the city expects upwards of 10,000 fewer arrests.

For the record

A summons is a written order issued by the court after a criminal or traffic complaint has been filed, requiring the person named in the complaint to appear in court on a specific date to answer to the alleged charge.

A summons could result in fines of up to $100. So, basically, it's a marijuana ticket. While this is progress, we still have a long way to go before marijuana is legalized outright.

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