By RYAN GORMAN
New Yorkers caught by police possessing small amounts of marijuana will reportedly no longer be arrested.
The New York Police Department will announce Monday that people found with marijuana will be issued summons tickets instead of being handcuffed, the New York Times reported.
NYPD officers have for decades arrested individuals found with marijuana, brought them in for fingerprinting and then often put them in front of a judge for arraignment on drug possession charges.
Some are released with the equivalent of a court summons after fingerprinting and checks for warrants.
It is not clear which threshold would be set for deciding between summons or arrest. State law currently stipulates that 25 grams or less leads to a misdemeanor count, more is a felony.
It also is not known how a person found by officers to be smoking a lit joint will be treated compared to someone with a small baggie of the plant.
A recent decision by Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth P. Thompson to discontinue prosecuting low-level marijuana offenses may have led to the decision, but it may also be a natural evolution of Mayor Bill de Blasio's move away from the stop-and-frisk tactics deployed by his predecessor.
Of the 2,526 misdemeanor marijuana cases brought before Thompson's office this year, 849 have been dismissed without prejudice, according to the Times.
The discontinuation of arrests for small-scale marijuana possession will most benefit blacks and Hispanics, who made up 86 percent of such arrests in the first eight months of this year, according to a recent study.
The mayor's expected announcement comes as more states, and the District of Columbia, have moved to either decriminalize possession or legalize sale of the drug for medical or recreational use.
But experts who spoke to the Times expressed concern that the summonses could eventually turn into warrants if those summoned to court fail to appear.
New York currently has 1.2 million active warrants that are the result of missed court dates and unpaid fines, about 25 percent of them stem from low-level offenses, court statistics showed.
City police arrested 28,000 people for marijuana possession last year alone, according to the Times, and were on a similar pace for this year.
As many as 50,000 people were arrested per year for marijuana possession during former mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure.
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