Leafly reports Despite recent headlines about New York City dropping marijuana possession cases and expunging convictions, NYPD cops and prosecutors are still arresting and threatening people with jail time for cannabis possession. They’re using a legal loophole to do it.
Scott Hechinger is a senior staff attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services, one of the city’s largest public defender agencies. One of his colleagues is defending a client who was arrested recently for using a cannabis vape pen. Hechinger drew attention to the situation Saturday on Twitter.
According to Hechinger, “THC oil” is classified differently than cannabis leaf. The THC oil in a common vape cartridge, he says, is considered a Class “A” misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail.
The low-level marijuana offender in question was handcuffed and jailed overnight for possession of a controlled substance—a little more than a week after Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez announced an initiative to erase up to 20,000 low-level cannabis convictions—”solely [because] he was smoking a vape pen [and] not a joint,” Hechinger said.
This draconian approach contradicts both the spirit and the letter of a new, lenient approach to marijuana possession announced earlier this summer by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill.
New York state law draws a distinction between marijuana and THC oil. The NYPD is exploiting that loophole.
It also illustrates a glaring loophole that allows the NYPD to continue to “disproportionately and unnecessarily target and interact with only black and Latino people living in certain neighborhoods over something that should not even be criminalized,” said Hechinger.
“The THC oil loophole is just one of many loopholes in the policies, which draw exceptions to the no-arrest policy for those with certain criminal records or those on parole, which merely replicate the racial disparities that already exist,” Hechinger told Leafly on Monday.
And “it’s not just the prosecution,” he added. “It’s also NYPD, who is continuing to arrest people for suspected THC oil. Which makes little sense given that it’s actually a safer, cleaner, less intrusive manner of using marijuana.”
Made us think of this white boy song…