If you’re anything like me and you never trusted this whole “don’t worry, marijuana is like totally OK now” spiel various high-ups in the city were feeding us, your paranoia was not unfounded. As quickly as Police Commissioner Bratton was able to publicly say marijuana is, like, totally a non-issue and should be treated as such by law enforcement, he’s gone back on his initial shift in attitude. This marks the emergence of a surprising divide between the Police Commissioner and the Mayor, who’ve had each other’s backs on most issues.
The Times reported this morning that at “a gathering convened with the Mayor” last week, Bratton revealed that homicides were up (despite his insistence last month at a hearing that a sharp increase in homicides at the outset of the year was a fluke, arguing the rate would fall once again). The cause? “The seemingly innocent drug that’s being legalized around the country,” Bratton said. “In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana.”
It’s not surprising that Bratton has pointed to marijuana, a drug that’s symbolic of an attitude and sub-culture he’s openly admitted to despising. The Times pointed out that Bratton noted in his memoir: “that he ‘disliked everything’ about the 1960s. He lamented ‘hippiedom, Woodstock, the drug culture, the style of dress,’ recalling peers who ‘wore beads, smoked marijuana and listened to antiwar rock and roll’ while he was serving in Vietnam.”
Clearly Bratton hates weed and ain’t got time for hippies and dope heads, whereas de Blasio has admitted to hitting the ganj back in college.
Back in November, Bratton stood beside Mayor de Blasio and announced that the NYPD would no longer be making arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana (25 grams or less), following Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson’s announcement in June that his office would no longer prosecute low-level marijuana offense. Bratton cited the need for officers to put “more time and energy into fighting more serious crime.” De Blasio said the new policy would “lead to fewer unnecessary arrests.”
Prior to the policy shift, marijuana arrests were already on the decrease, but according to the Times since November those arrests have “plummeted.” Bratton pointed to seven recent cases of homicide related to violent robberies of drug dealers, who were apparently holding pot. “We just see marijuana everywhere when we make these arrests, when we get these guns off the street,” Bratton said.