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Brooklyn DA's Office Takes Next Step In Quest To Decriminalize Pot

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There will be no penalty for pot.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office has sent the NYPD a policy proposal that says the office will stop prosecuting people arrested on charges of possessing small amounts of marijuana, CBS 2's Alice Gainer reported.

Supporters of drug law reform rallied on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall on Friday.

"Number one, Brooklyn has more marijuana possession arrests than any other borough in the city. Number two, Brooklyn has amongst the highest racial disparities of these arrests anywhere in the country," said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Building on that last point, Brooklyn's Borough President Eric Adams added, "We only enforced it in certain parts of Brooklyn. That is unacceptable."

However, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said arrests for these types of marijuana offenses are on the decline.

"The numbers of those types of arrests are down very significantly and have been trending down," Bratton said.

Court records show that criminal possession of marijuana has constantly been the number one reason for arraignments citywide. During his campaign for Brooklyn district attorney, Ken Thompson spoke with CBS 2 about wanting to decriminalize marijuana.

"These arrests for small amounts of marijuana are clogging the criminal justice system," Thompson said.

Thompson, a former federal prosecutor, would rather just issue fines to those caught with less than 15 grams of pot, and has given the NYPD his confidential policy proposal.

Since taking office, Thompson has been looking at alternatives for low-level offenders to keep them out of court. Bratton said he needs a better sense of what exactly Thompson is proposing and hopes to get that when the two meet.

"We have a meeting scheduled next Thursday to discuss the draft policy that his office has been working on. We have been reviewing it here in the department," Bratton said.

Under Thompson's proposal, the policy would only apply to those with clean or minimal criminal records, Gainer reported.

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