Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance moves to dismiss 3,000 marijuana cases

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is moving to dismiss more than 3,000 marijuana cases dating back to 1978.

Vance says throwing out the cases will open doors for the thousands of New Yorkers whose marijuana arrest records have stopped them from getting jobs.

The move comes after the NYPD implemented a new policy of issuing summonses to most people caught smoking marijuana in public.

The policy shift is expected to reduce arrests by 10,000 each year, mostly among minority populations.

"By vacating these warrants, we are preventing unnecessary future interactions with the criminal justice system, and removing all of the collateral consequences for one's job prospects, school attendance, housing applications, and immigration status associated with an open Criminal Court case," Vance said. "And in so doing, we're taking one small step toward addressing the decades of racial disparities behind the enforcement of marijuana in New York City."

The DA's Office identified all cases available in its records dating back to 1978 wherein the only remaining charge was marijuana possession or smoking. Vance made motions to vacate 3,042 bench warrants and dismiss 3,042 underlying misdemeanor and violation cases in the interest of justice. Of the defendants whose cases were dismissed, 79 percent are New Yorkers of color and 46 percent were 25 years of age or younger at the time of their arrest.

Anyone attempting to determine the status of his or her own cases can contact the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem at 212-876-5500 or the New York County Defender Services via

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