The Drug Policy Alliance found that between the years of 2002 and 2012, the New York Police Department spent about a million hours arresting marijuana users.
The group aims for decriminalization of the drug, but the report was done at the request of members of the city council and state legislature.
During the ten year period, 439,056 people were arrested for possessing marijuana. Most of those, nearly 85 percent, were young blacks and latinos.
The process of arresting a marijuana user takes up a large chunk of the officers’ day, usually consisting of two and a half hours of processing. The police are required to gather information, write a report, take fingerprints, and photos.
“That is the equivalent of having 31 police officers working eight hours a day, 365 days a year, for 11 years, making only marijuana possession arrests,” DPA said, They also pointed out that during this time, officers are neglecting to address “serious crime.”
It is also a costly endeavor, as fighting marijuana possession amounts to $75 million a year. Those arrested also spent five million hours in detention.
“We cannot afford to continue arresting tens of thousands of youth every year for low-level marijuana possession,” Alfredo Carrasquillo said, civil rights organizer with VOCAL-NY.
Governor Andrew Cuomo released the report as the state legislature negotiates changes to marijuana laws.
Cuomo wants to make it legal to carry less than 15 grams of marijuana in public.