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NYPD to ticket, not arrest, individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana

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MANHATTAN (PIX11) -- The NYPD will begin ticketing people caught with small amounts of marijuana instead of arresting them, officials announced Monday. 

Nearly one in eight arrests in New York City is marijuana-related, with black and Hispanic people making up 86 percent of those arrests.

Beginning November 19, individuals found with 25 grams of marijuana or less in open view will receive a summons instead of being arrested. Currently, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor offense, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said during a news conference.

Those caught using marijuana in public will still be subject to arrest.

However, individuals who have an open warrant, are involved in an active criminal investigation, or cannot produce proper photo I.D, can still be arrested.

"This is an example of another important step, both for keeping the people of New York City safe, and building a closer relationship between the police and community in this city," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

It is a policy that de Blasio says will give young New Yorkers an opportunity rather than a wasted life.

"There have been in some cases disastrous consequences for individuals and families. When an individual is arrested even for the smallest possession of marijuana, it hurts their chances to get a good job it hurts their chances to get housing, it hurts their chances to qualify for a student loan, it could literally follow them for the rest of their lives."

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and Borough President Erik Adams have both been campaigning for leniency in arrests where small amounts of marijuana possession are evident.

The PBA wasted no time reacting to the news. Union President Pat Lynch issuing a statement, saying, "We do not want police officers left holding the bag if crime rises because of poor policy."

Prior to news conference, PIX11 News met up with Keith in Washington Square Park.

He did not want to provide his last name but did share that he is 50-years-old and "weed" has been a part of his life "since I was the age of 15."

Keith also admits to being arrested countless times over marijuana adding that, "It's too much money that they have to pay to house guys like me, for a bag of marijuana, one bag."

Earlier this year, Thompson said he would stop prosecuting such cases and since July has dismissed about a third of all marijuana police arrests in Brooklyn.

The NYPD arrested 28,000 people for marijuana possession last year and the arrest rates appears to be the same so far this year, a practice that has been decried by many, including Adams, who spoke about it in September.

Correction: Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson was misidentified in an earlier version of this report. 

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