NYPD spent 1,000,000 hours arresting 440,000 people for cannabis possession over last 11 years

"A new report documents the astonishing number of hours the New York Police Department has spent arresting and processing hundreds of thousands of people for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests during Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure. The report finds that NYPD used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 marijuana possession arrests over 11 years. -- Drug Policy Alliance


  1. If I remember my Law And Order Theory properly, this is a sign that we are obviously too focused on criminal’s rights, and are actively impeding the effectiveness of our boys in blue. The only way forward is a sharp reduction in pesky procedural protections!

    1. If I remember my Law And Order Theory properly…

      Then Jerry Orbach makes a quip. [DOINK-DOINK.]

    1.  Oh, really? You’d squeal on someone for possession of marijuana? Glad I’m not your neighbor. And even if I was and you were going to narc on me, I’d still help you and your family get out of your burning house.

    1. You’re right they should be ticketing people for going 11km over the speed limit. That is easily the difference between killing a pedestrian or cyclist and not killing them in an urban environment.

      1. If 7 miles per hour is the difference between you killing a pedestrian or not, you shouldn’t be driving a car.

        Unless you mean hitting them at the speed you’re going (if you didn’t react, again, you should not be driving a car), 35 versus 42, in which case it doesn’t matter anymore because you’re causing absurd bodily harm. Speed limit laws should not be kept low because of silly reasoning such as that. If you were to actually follow your own reasoning, you’d realize that what you want is for cars to stop existing, or being allowed to go above an average running pace.

        1. If you honestly believe what you are saying you should not be driving cars. 

          Check out some random stopping distance calculators online:If you’re travelling at about 35 (a reasonable and fairly common urban speed distance) you should be able to come to a complete stop within about 29m. At 42 that distance is extended to 39m. This is dry conditions, wet, icy or snowy conditions will increase the distances again.

          If a pedestrian steps into your path at 20 metres you’ll hit them either way, but you’ll hit them a heck of a lot faster (just over halfway through your skid) if you were travelling at 42 compared to 35.

          As to your last sentence; don’t be absurd, I never said anything of the sort.

  2. Hmmm. Lets do some back of the envelope screwball calculations.

    $50 an hour => $50 million spent. 
    1 oz per bust => 440,000 oz

    Hey, that’s $114 oz..  Seems NYC is getting a good price.  But they’d do better buying in bulk and getting a discount.

    1. Don’t forget the fact that extra staff are necessary to deal with this load: officers at the stationhouse, court employees, jail employees. On the upshot, NY apparently banned private prisons over 10 years ago.

  3. According to Wikipedia, over the last ten years the NYPD has consisted of 35,000 to 40,000 sworn officers plus support personnel, so let’s say that averages to 37,000.  According to http://www.nyc.gov, they get 20 paid vacation days/year, (27 after 5 years), throw in 10 or so holidays, some sick time and we get about 43 weeks per year.  Assuming 40 hour work weeks, that’s about 700 million work hours over 11 years.  So pot busts account for about 0.14% of that time.

    Does that seem unreasonable?  Just asking…

      1. I agree with you in principle, pot possession shouldn’t be illegal.  But given that it is (was?), do we fault the police for enforcing the law?  (I’m not going to go into all the various corruption/crap things that some cops do…)

        1. Yes, we do, because as I found out just recently here in Colorado: apparently cops/sherrifs can openly choose which laws they enforce and which ones they don’t.

          1.  Exactly.  I know a friend that has a red card (legal possession under one ounce) and had a small amount in his car.  He informed the officer of his card-carrying status.  The officer blatantly lied on his report and forced him to waste the court’s time.  I really hope the officer was reprimanded by the chain of command.

    1. Pretty sure this is just the actual arrest and processing hours, not the time spent waiting around in the bushes for Cheech and Chong to light up in Central Park.

      1. Thanks, It wasn’t clear to me from the paper what other time was used.  I”d be curious to know what percentage of busts involve stake-outs and such versus just seeing someone light up on the street and hauling them in.

      2.  The numbers seem wrong to me too.  That’s 2 hours per arrest. That seems really fast and efficient.  Booking alone can easily take more than 2 hours.

  4. I’m far more uncomfortable walking by NYPD officers holding assault rifles than I am walking by someone smoking a joint. The former also happens more frequently.

  5. So, a minimum of $100/ticket plus an apparently heft NY state surcharge x 440,000 = $44 million, or about $4 million/ year.

    Better than raising taxes instead, people might complain. Grrrr….

    1. Absolutely!  Because this way, the poor can pay for New Yorkers’ basic services and infrastructure, while the Job Creators enjoy their justly-deserved tax cuts.  I’ll bet it works the same way in your town, too.

  6. If they had spent their time pollinating flowers instead, we could reduce the impact of colony collapse disorder. 

  7. Pot isn’t a victimless crime. There’s big bucks to be made and with that comes competition, gang activity and violence. Also the environmental impact is astronomical. The only way to lessen the impact is to legalize it. However it needs to be of a self grow/harvest/small operation nature, so big industrial farms aren’t throwing even more pesticides and herbicides into our groundwater. Also, I’m sure Marlboro (RJ Reynolds) has a secret formula of additives ready and waiting to make a great natural flower into an addictive habit. Additionally I think a lot of farmers would shift away from crops to a money maker and we’d hear national media stories about food shortages all the time, so who would be able to grow it would be a big sticking point as well.

    While the NYPD has wasted resources chasing kids with joints, taking down guys with 100-200lbs is a worthwhile endeavor.

  8. Are stoners easier to arrest and process than meth addicts?  2 hours does seem quick.  the police union would hate to see hash de-criminalised – numbers count.

  9. and this has CLEARLY curbed all of the use of marijuana in NYC..yea RIGHT ! What about alcohol ? We go RIGHT past that DRUG !

Comments are closed.