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Mayor De Blasio, NYPD Already At Odds Over New Marijuana Arrest Policy

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the NYPD to stop arresting people for smoking marijuana in public, setting up a challenging situation, to say the least, for officers.

Weed, pot, ganja, herb, reefer, dope, grass, doobie... there are over 200 synonyms for marijuana, but Mayor de Blasio has just one "blunt" order for the the police: stop arresting people for smoking it in public.

It's something that's popular with the public.

"Marijuana is such a ridiculous thing to arrest people for and as you know it's always young black men," resident James Sylvia said.

"Too many people are arrested for small things and then they languish in jail if they don't have the money to get out," Upper West Side resident Diane Finkelstein said.

"Probably a good idea because a lot of people are in jail because of that, and the cops should be arresting more important stuff," added David Chandler of the Bronx.

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

But it is difficult for the NYPD to sort it all out as it considers the public safety implications. For example, new research shows after Colorado legalized marijuana the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana rose sharply.

In 2013, 10 percent of drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for marijuana.

In 2016, it was 20 percent, according to the Denver Post.

MOREDe Blasio Announces Review Of NYPD's Marijuana Enforcement After Analysis Reveals Racial Disparities

Another issue is so-called "carve-outs."

A spokesman for the mayor told CBS2's Kramer the NYPD would have to design a policy that would allow cops to make arrests for certain "exceptions." People who could still be arrested could include those on parole, on probation and with outstanding warrants.

Drug advocates say not arresting people for smoking pot in public is great; carve-outs are bad... that high times at City Hall has a downer component.

"The carve-outs, for those on parole or on probation, is still a representation and showing a continued commitment to criminalization around this plan, as we've experienced in the past," said Chris Alexander of the Drug Policy Alliance.

The mayor is also going to name a task force this week to prepare for the legalization of marijuana. In this, de Blasio may be seeking to beat Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the punch. On Wednesday, state Democrats are expected to nominate Cuomo for re-election and pass a resolution calling for legalizing pot in New York.

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