New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in hot water with a Democratic competitor after dishing out some bold claims about his impact on cannabis policing reform.
According to Politico, de Blasio was talking to voters about his track record at a campaign record when the incumbent candidate took credit for “ending arrests for low-level possession of marijuana.”
The only problem with de Blasio’s heroic police reform claims - is that the NYPD is still making thousands of low-level possession busts. However, that glaring error didn’t get past Robert Gangi, a prison reform activist and a Democrat challenging de Blasio in the upcoming mayoral election. Gangi sent an email to his supporters yesterday titled “de Blasio’s Marijuana lies” to set the record straight.
Using New York State statistics, Gangi shows that NYPD made over 5,000 small-time cannabis possession arrests in the first three months of 2017. Or, as Gangi wrote in the email; “That’s nearly 400 arrests per week.” Of those 5,000 arrests, 91% were of people of color.
When asked about the fraudulent claims, a spokesman for the mayor told reporters that "Marijuana possession arrests are down 30 percent and general low-level possession arrests that don't involve public smoking have effectively been eliminated since the Mayor took office."
An earlier report from Politico also looked at cannabis arrest numbers over de Blasio’s term and shows that the latest statement might also be a lie. Politico found that 2016’s over 18,000 possession arrests were fewer than in ‘13 and ‘14, at the beginning of the Mayor’s term, but more than in 2015.
We’ll see if de Blasio continues to try to use his track record with cannabis to get re-elected, but with Gangi and others keeping watch, we’re guessing he’ll choose a different focus.