Bronx District Attorney (DA) Darcel Clark on Thursday dismissed more than 6,000 misdemeanor cannabis cases where the primary charge was possession or sale, the New York Daily News reports. The sweeping dismissal of the cases — both past and pending — comes two months after lawmakers legalized cannabis for adult use.
“My office has long stopped prosecuting for these offenses, because they were not a direct threat to public safety, and they gave people a criminal record that had negative collateral consequences on employment, housing, education, immigration and other matters. … Mindful of these harsh realities for those affected, our application today is an effort to bring into effect my office’s shared purpose of pursuing justice with integrity aligned with the legislative goals outlined above.” — Clark, in court, via Daily News
The move follows similar motions by district attorneys in other New York City boroughs. Those 2018 actions by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez preceded the broad reforms passed in March. Vance vacated more than 3,000 cases dating back to the 1970s and Gonzalez’s action affected more than 1,400 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases, the report says.
A spokesman for Staten Island DA Michael McMahon told the News that his office is in the process of dismissing more than 1,100 cannabis cases. Queens DA Melinda Katz has indicated she would expunge past cannabis convictions for crimes now legal under state law.
During Clarke’s court appearance on Thursday seeking the dismissals, Judge George Grasso, chief supervising judge for Bronx Criminal Court, noted that cannabis prohibition “resulted in devastating collateral consequences including mass incarceration and other complex generational trauma that inhibit an otherwise law-abiding citizen’s ability to access housing, employment opportunities, and other services.”
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