News Over 3,000 marijuana cases dismissed by Manhattan DA Nearly 80 percent of the arrests were for people of color, whose communities are disproportionately affected, Vance said. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. dismissed more than 3,000 marijuana arrests on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert By Ivan Pereira firstname.lastname@example.org @IvanPer4 Updated September 12, 2018 2:30 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email For 3,042 people who have been living in the shadow of a small time pot arrest in Manhattan, Wednesday was the start of a new chapter. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Kevin McGrath approved a request by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. to dismiss those outstanding misdemeanor marijuana possession and smoking cases from the court docket. Vance said that nearly 80 percent of the incidents, which date back to 1978, were for people of color, and their communities were living with an unnecessary burden. “By dismissing these cases, we’re removing all of the adverse collateral consequences — for one’s job prospects, school attendance, housing applications and immigration status — associated with open criminal court cases,” Vance told the judge. Since Aug. 1, the Manhattan district attorney has stopped prosecuting marijuana possession and smoking cases unless there is a sale or a “public safety risk.” Vance’s office said it went through an extensive process to determine which of the cases in its system would be dismissed. Only individuals who had a misdemeanor for pot possession or smoking and no other outstanding felonies were given a dismissal, he said. Judge McGrath sealed the misdemeanors for 90 days so that the district attorney’s office and the NYPD can process the dismissals properly. Vance said that his office is working with the public defender office and will provide it with a list of the individuals whose cases were dismissed. Carolyn Wilson, the director of the New York County Defender Services, and Seth Steed, managing director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, who were at the hearing, said they will be able to give concerned New Yorkers information on their dismissed cases soon. “This is significant to changing the lives of our clients and our communities that face overpolicing,” Steed said. Vance urged Albany to change the marijuana laws so that low-level possession misdemeanors didn’t lead to time behind bars. “You can drive on the West Side Highway at 75 miles per hour and you can get a ticket. But if you are . . . found smoking marijuana, you can be arrested, processed and held in jail for 24 hours,” he said. “The offense does not in our opinion justify the enforcement.” By Ivan Pereira email@example.com @IvanPer4 Ivan has been a staff reporter with amNewYork since May 2012 and covers breaking news, politics and enterprise stories. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter More on this topic Brooklyn DA to vacate low-level marijuana convictionsGonzalez's office estimates there are about 20,000 people who may qualify. City’s policy on smoking pot in public changes – for someThe policy is aimed at reducing racial disparities in how marijuana laws are enforced. Cuomo forms group to create marijuana legalization billThe group will create legislation for state lawmakers to consider next year. Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.