Bronx DA Darcel Clark dismisses more than 6,000 pot cases

BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark on Thursday announced that her office was dismissing more than 6,000 cases that involved the charge of misdemeanor marijuana possession or sale.

"The Legislature has de-criminalized the possession and sale of small amounts of marijuana to right the wrong of disproportionate enforcement and arrests in communities of color like the Bronx," Clark said. "We had long stopped prosecuting these offenses because they were not a threat to public safety, and they gave people a criminal record that had negative collateral consequences on employment, housing, education, and immigration."

In court, the judge said some of the cases date back to the early 1980s.

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"Today is a historic day in Bronx Criminal Court," Supervising Judge George Grasso said. "Our criminal justice system has responded swiftly to the actions and intent of the New York State Legislature with respect to over 6,000 pending and closed matters relating to marijuana charges. This means that thousands of individuals, many who are young people of color, can now go about their business without being under the cloud of a criminal matter."

Because there are a total of 6,089 cases being dismissed, it will take some time for all of them to be processed.

The judge is giving 90 days to do that.

"It relieves the burden from these people in getting jobs because they have convictions for crimes that's no longer on the books," said attorney Matthew Walsh, with Assigned Counsel Plan. "So it's a good move for the courts, for the police, and more importantly, the people involved."

The dismissed cases include 2,441 summonses, 1,998 pending cases with 1,974 open warrants, and 1,650 cases in which a plea was entered and there is an open warrant based upon the failure to complete a sentence.

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