A major investigation by the New York Times found continued racial disparities in marijuana enforcement and arrests in every neighborhood in the City.
The district attorney's office in Manhattan, New York City's largest borough, will no longer file charges against defendants in most marijuana possession and smoking cases, the office announced on Tuesday.
Gonzalez added that the office began a pilot program three months ago that declined to prosecute "some instances" of smoking marijuana in public "where a public nuisance was not created".
"The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", said Vance.
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, joined by civil-rights activist Al Sharpton Tuesday at a press conference at City Hall, said prosecutors should stop making pot arrests altogether.More news: Feared Dead in Varanasi Bridge Collapse
Discussions were ongoing to consider "limited exceptions" to the policy. "We need an honest assessment about why they exist and balance it in the context of the public safety needs of all communities".
Johnson said a council analysis showed that in a predominantly black and Hispanic precinct in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the city received 88 complaints of public pot smoking and police made 246 arrests.
Under the DA's office new policy, people who violate the law would be issued summonses. Hispanics were five times more likely than white people to face arrest.
Under the current policy in Manhattan, people are arrested, fingerprinted and have to appear in court. As a result, large numbers of New Yorkers become further alienated from law enforcement and removed from community participation at an enormous cost to the criminal justice system, for virtually no punitive, rehabilitative or deterrent goal.
"Such arrests can significantly impact job searches, schooling, family members, immigration status, and community involvement", the DA said. Brooklyn already has a similar policy.More news: Dutch researchers uncover dirty jokes in Anne Frank's diary
Today's announcement marks the culmination of six months of research and policy analysis, including extensive, in-person interviews with law enforcement officials in jurisdictions where marijuana is no longer criminally prosecuted.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of few NY politicians who has opposed marijuana legalization, promised to relax police enforcement after facing increasing pressure to address racial disparities in pot arrests. "We will await the results of that review", a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.
The New York City Council was in a full-scale revolt over charges of racial profiling when it comes to marijuana arrests. I've said it before and I'll say it again: "This is not really going to end until marijuana is legalized, taxed and regulated in New York City".
Possession of up to 25 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana is punishable by a US$100 fine on first offence in NY, rising to US$200 second time around.More news: PGA star allegedly attacked by wife after bad round