Ken Thompson won’t prosecute possession

Boro potheads: District attorney’s weed policy makes sinsemilla

A bong way and a right way: District Attorney Ken Thompson won't prosecute people arrested for low-level marijuana crimes.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Toke ’em if you got ’em!

District Attorney Ken Thompson told the New York Police Department that his office will stop prosecuting people caught carrying marijuana or smoking it out in the open for the first time, according to a memo obtained by the New York Post. Borough ganja enthusiasts let out a deep breath upon hearing the news and said Thompson’s move could clear the air around the drug they say has been considered illicit for far too long.

“If the district attorney stays true to his word, and I hope he will, he will have taken a tremendous step towards emancipating untold thousands of recreational and medicinal marijuana users from a prohibition that is both morally unjust and economically foolish,” said Jack, a city employee who partakes of pot “whenever he can” and asked that his name be changed to conceal his identity.

Prosecutors will instruct police to toss out cases involving defendants with minor or nonexistent criminal records, as well as defendants facing misdemeanor charges that apply to less than two ounces of weed, according to the Post.

Should the cases make it to court, the borough’s top lawman will toss them out like so many stems and sticks, the memo said.

The policy is meant to discourage police from arresting black and Latino youths for the offense, Thompson said. In the year 2010, Brooklyn accounted for a third of the city’s 60,000 marijuana arrests and black men were nearly 10 times more likely to get pinched for possession, despite the fact that studies show black and white youngsters toke up at comparable rates nationwide, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union. The change in policy will free up more time for the district attorney’s office to concentrate on more serious crimes, according to Thompson.

“The goal of this new policy is to ensure that the resources of this office are allocated in a manner that most enhances public safety, and individuals, especially young people of color, do not become unfairly burdened and stigmatized by involvement in the criminal-justice system,” the memo said.

A Brooklyn transplant who used to puff the magic dragon regularly echoed the racial-justice sentiment.

“Hopefully the initiative will take away some of the racial profiling and divisiveness attached to minor changes like these,” said Rosalie, a Crown Heights resident and former occasional user who asked that her last name not be used.

Another daily dope-smoker applauded the policy, contending that marijuana is not the dangerous drug police officers and some politicians would have people believe.

“I just think it’s kind-of ridiculous that cigarettes and alcohol are perfectly legal and acceptable to advertise in the presence of children and outside, and that something like weed wouldn’t be at least considered on the same level of legality,” said Fort Greene resident Teddy, a freelance video editor who also opted to go surname-less.

Teddy’s roommate Brittany, who lights up three or four times per month, said that society is not in imminent danger of collapse in the wake of Thompson’s policy shift.

“I think if you can light up a cigarette on the street, you should be able to light up a joint — it’s not nearly as harmful to yourself or those around you,” she said. “Everything is good in moderation. If everyone is walking around stoned out of their minds, there could be far more negative outcomes.”

Police commissioner Bill Bratton, who has emphasized arresting people for minor infractions under the theory that it will prevent major crimes, told Capital New York that he has not talked to Thompson about the protocol change or seen the details.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Shazaam !!!
April 24, 2014, 5:16 pm
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
Like yah!
April 24, 2014, 5:51 pm
JAY from NYC says:
The law is the law, if you can't or won't enforce it, then you have no business being a D.A. The Feds should investigate this guy.
April 24, 2014, 7:37 pm
judahspechal from bedstuy says:
nah Jay from NYC, the NYPD & I are coming over. WE need to see in your closest.
April 24, 2014, 11:03 pm
The Duke from Flatbush says:
It's pathetic that Cuomo has backed off his previous pro legalization rhetoric. We need a state wide referendum for legalization on the ballot in 2016, to coincide with the presidential election. It would pass with about 60% of the vote with the increased turnout.
April 25, 2014, 1:39 am
bkmanhatman from nubrooklyn says:
Hmmm... wheres diehipster to chime in on this.
April 25, 2014, 7:52 am
Caleb Kazoolington from The Shwick says:
Deed, I like, tertally hate having to look over my emaciated shoulder while smoking my organic greens at 2pm on a Wednesday in the middle of McCarren Park. Those police-state soldiers can easily spot my glow-in-the-sun, Nancy Reagan shaped body from blocks away. At least now I won't get prosecuted and have to call my Daddy's lawyer in Minnesota. Well, back to the communal art loft for a power nap before the adult finger painting/trivia/spelling bee contest tonight in Roberta's basement speak easy.

Thanks again, my-one-black-friend DA deeeeeeed!
April 25, 2014, 8:59 am
DC from Park Slop says:
If it was not for gentrification of these neighborhoods there would be no issue of POT which is an illegal DRUG. The hipster/yuppies have to realize any drug is addicting. They complain about Cig smoke I cannot stand the smell of this stuff. And those who smoke it should be libel for the same DWI laws as in the Drunk Driving statue. YOUR HIGH while driving go to jail
April 25, 2014, 9:51 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
DC, that was perhaps the stupidest comment I've read in a long time.

I'm not sure how gentrification is the cause of mostly minorities being arrested for marijuana possession.

Drugs have different degrees of addictiveness. This is something that is possible to study. Marijuana is less addictive than legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol.

The DA did not say "I will not prosecute people who are driving poorly under the influence of marijuana." He said he won't waste his time on people who have small amounts and aren't endangering anyone.
April 25, 2014, 10:24 am
DC from Park Slop says:
Well probably being one of those liberal potheads yourself you would agree with this. ITS ILLEGAL and should stay that way don't care who you are
April 25, 2014, 10:54 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Liberal, yes--because I'm smart. Pothead, no. I prefer booze.

It's illegal because it's illegal so it should be illegal is an argument that is fitting in its stupidity. Are you a false flag operation working for the marijuana lobby?
April 25, 2014, 11:52 am
Melissa from Hong Kong says:
Clearly a racial motive behind this article. No mention of the fact that as arrests for marijuana go down, the number of Chinese arrested for using recreational opium increases daily? Is that where the courts are putting their newly freed time?
Any cooincidence that riker's recently put in a large order for rice, noodles and soy sauce infused fish heads to stock the cafeteria?
None at all!
April 25, 2014, 12:05 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Bong Show says:
Well, let's face it, it's also that hipsters are more mature about marijuana use than the old mook-homey street culture was. It's not like there's mischief going down every time someone lights a bone in Williamsburg. As was frequently the case before gentrification. The DA gets this.
April 25, 2014, 12:22 pm
Barry from Flatbush says:
Can't be arresting white folks in williwick. Chooch knows his white privilege makes him better than those "homey" types.
April 25, 2014, 5:42 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
White people in Williamsburg WEREN'T being arrested for marijuana use. But if a white person in Williamsburg cheers on Ken Thompson for equalizing the way different people are treated for using marijuana, that's worth attacking, huh Barry?
April 25, 2014, 6:41 pm
The Chooch from The Big Bohemian Bong says:
Mike, you're not even wrong. Look, it's not just that "white people" have gotten a pass on weed in the burg. It's true, they have. But it's much more than that. Hipsters, Bohemians, Yuppies, have educated the entire borough in the etiquette of herb. We have raised the whole level of understanding about this species of flora. Culturally, medicinally, spiritually. The mooks and homeys have caught on, everyone's getting with the picture, behaving themselves more, and learning how to smoke pot like gentlemen. And the DA is modifying the law in response to the new culture of marijuana in Brooklyn. You're welcome. Any time. Shazaaam.
April 25, 2014, 7:59 pm
jay from nyc says:
no Chooch what the D.A. is doing is pandering to criminals to earn votes.
April 25, 2014, 8:36 pm
The Chooch from The Bong of Bohemia says:
Jay, if you want to get stuck on that fine. You're entitled to your opinion. But the preponderance of data shows that weed is not as harmful as tobacco and alcohol. There's no rationale behind having weed illegal while cigs and booze are legal. It's a cultural bias inscribed in the law. And the trend across the land is to decriminalize pot. The DA is following the trend. Meanwhile the hipsters and bohos have done a great deal to separate the culture of weed from the culture of criminality in the life of Brooklyn. The DA has taken this into account as well.
April 25, 2014, 9:27 pm
JAY from NYC says:
yeah cooch and people handle alcohol so well, just a great argument you spit out, 14 thousand a year killed in drunk driving murders, we have lost more people to drunk drivers than we have all of our wars combined. Why the hell would you advocate adding something else that will add to the death toll? That is NOT a cultural basis, it is reality.
And no its not a trend across the land to decimalize pot, its happened in a very small minority of jurisdictions and that it. Get real, or are you high right now?
As for Hipster seperate "culture" of weed from crime, that is hilarious, since when is killing your brain cells and being controlled by a plant qualify as "culture"?
News flash, it aint, its a bunch of losers who are engaged in criminal activity that is founded on murder and torture.
If You buy use, hold, transport weed you are supporting the worst people on the planet, and oh yes, you can NOT separate yourself from that.
Another article in the BP is a story about a guy killed in a drug related incident, but I guess you are cool with this DA (Dumb A**) D.A. not enforcing drug laws, cause who cares if some people gets killed, as long as you can keep on being controlled by a plant. Right?
You are entitled to your opinion as well, but you are still wrong.
April 26, 2014, 10:15 am
diehipster from Fileting Fauxhemians says:
Let me break down what the EethChooch really means:

If two scraggly mid-western "artists" went up to the roof of their loft building, got high, and did something stupid which led to them falling off and splattering on a Bushwick street - he wouldn't be against their family back in Wiscochusetts suing the landlord for not having higher railings or fences to keep the talented Brooklyn renaissance makers safe.

But if two black or latino guys were just sitting in a park or a stoop - they are doing it all wrong - the homey/mook way and deserve what they have coming to them.
April 26, 2014, 10:43 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Bong Show says:
Hey no problem, Jay, have it your way. But then outlaw liquor and tobacco as well. And while you're at it, outlaw religion too, the greatest narcotic and mass killer the world has ever known.

I'm not here to argue the demerits of various addictions, religion among them. But apply a consistent standard.

What the Chooch is saying is that recreational drugs are not the component of violent crime they once were in the borough, and this is because you have a more mature and urbane use of recreational drugs among the new gentry and creative class that you had among the crackheads of yore. And the DA is responding to this development.
April 26, 2014, 12:24 pm
jay from nyc says:
no chooch you are wrong wrong wrong, drugs ARE the single biggest driver of ALL crime. Comparing religion to street drugs, ok so now you are paraphrasing Karl Marx, a guy whose philosophy is a proven failure? Simply ridiculous on its face, and ummm no we are not going to run Brooklyn according to that.
April 26, 2014, 1:51 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Bongathon says:
No Jay I'm paraphrasing Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. And since when did the Chooch ever say we're running Brooklyn along Marxist lines. Far from it I'd say. Ayn Rand would be more to the point. It's you guys who are complaining about all the money in Brooklyn, not the Chooch. It's you mooks who can't take the heat, not the hipsters and yuppies. And as they say, if you can't take the heat, you better get out of the kitchen.
April 26, 2014, 2:23 pm
The Duke from Flatbush says:
In all my years I've yet to meet a hippie/hipstoid/bohemian that was a disciple of Ann Rynd. The Chooch has mistaken soulless yuppie corporate drone think for true bohemian thought.
April 26, 2014, 3:02 pm
The Duke from Flatbush says:
Ayn Rand...autocorrect strikes again.
April 26, 2014, 3:03 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
Well Duke, in all my years I've yet to meet a real tough guy from real Brooklyn who thought the world owed him an "affordable" apartment. So I guess history is full of surprises. Tough guys from Brooklyn become welfare queens, and bohemians become landlords. Go figure.
April 26, 2014, 3:29 pm
The Duke from Flatbush says:
Most of the "tough guys" that weren't smart enough to buy property in Brooklyn many years ago are long gone to Staten Island and beyond. I'm always glad to hear about more bohemians owning property and adding to the quality of life here. I'd rather have a vibrant music and art scene and have my apartment be worth a few less dollars.

Unfortunately, the creative types that make Brooklyn so appealing are the ones needing affordable housing if they are going to stay here. The mooks are fun to troll, but they are old news, a relic from the past.
April 26, 2014, 3:57 pm
The Chooch from the Bohemian Magic Show says:
There you go Duke. The paradox is that a vibrant music and art scene is precisely what fuels gentrification. You can't get around it. It really is the "bohemian magic show" that makes the borough desirable and, consequently, unaffordable. The wealthy really do want to live where the most fun is. And when the artists get priced out, the fun starts to taper off. The serpent of gentrification eats its own tail.
April 26, 2014, 6:49 pm
bkmanhatman from nubrooklyn says:
All I can say is, i wish the laws were equal to that of Colorado and Washington State. I applaud Ken Thompson's changes but there are too many old school mooks and curmudgeons who want to keep the old Balkanize Bk - eff that
April 26, 2014, 7:01 pm
Josh from WBurg says:
homey and mook?

who are you people, go back to the 50s.

hipsters have taught minorities how to smoke weed politely? blow off.
April 26, 2014, 9:40 pm
Minority says:
Thank you so much Josh for coming to my home and teaching me how smoke politely.
April 27, 2014, 5:29 am
The Chooch from The Bohemian Bong Show says:
... and also how properly to dispose of your heroin needles. Do not throw them on the street. Used needles are a biohazard. Seal your used needles in heavy cardboard and duct tape and deposit them in the trash.
April 27, 2014, 10:21 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Just what we need - more dopey people!
April 27, 2014, 11:16 am
The Chooch from The Big Bohemian Bong says:
Sugn, if you deal pot on the street and you throw your crack viles and needles all around the place, you gone get busted. If you just phone your dealer like an adult and do your thing at home, or even have a doobie in the park now and then ... it then ceases to serve the public interest to arrest you. And the DA backs off. That's the difference between old and new Brooklyn.
April 27, 2014, 2:56 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
"or even have a doobie in the park now and then ."

But not a Marlboro, 'cause Mayor for Life Mike banned them
April 27, 2014, 4:22 pm

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