Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah announced Monday that the courts have granted her petitions to dismiss all cases involving standalone charges of marijuana possession of three ounces or less in accordance with the new Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.
“Dismissing these marijuana cases, including underlying bench warrants, has been a priority of mine, and the legislature’s repeal of Article 221 was long overdue. The decriminalization of marijuana possession is critical given the discriminatory way marijuana laws have been used to incarcerate people of color.” DA Rocah said. “While Black and white Americans used marijuana at similar rates, people of color are much more likely to be arrested than white Americans for marijuana possession. Our office is committed to reducing this disparity and the dismissal of these cases is an important step.”
Despite roughly equal usage rates, Black people are 3.73 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana nationally.
“The decriminalization of low-level marijuana-related offenses will prevent people from getting unnecessarily involved with the criminal justice system,” Rocah said. “Having to disclose an arrest and record can impact many facets of their life, including limiting employment and housing opportunities.”
A total of 184 cases have been dismissed by the Westchester District Attorney’s Office.
In local court, prosecutors will continue to identify warrants for standalone marijuana charges that would no longer be prosecutable and will calendar these cases, recall the warrants and dismiss the charges.
The District Attorney’s Office is still evaluating the new law but intends to prosecute future offenses in accordance with the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which was passed on March 31, including the felony sale or possession of cannabis or concentrated cannabis. While it will not be a priority to prosecute violations or misdemeanors, the District Attorney’s Office will monitor the impact and nature of all marijuana offenses and will collaborate with our law enforcement partners to determine if adjustments to prosecuting such crimes are needed.
Furthermore, DA Rocah will continue to aggressively prosecute impaired drivers impacting the safety of Westchester County roadways.