Declining to prosecute marijuana possession

A handful of lead prosecutors across the country have also implemented policies to decline to prosecute many marijuana possession cases. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez,  Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner have instructed their line prosecutors to not issue charges in most cases of possession of small amounts of marijuana. In doing so, these prosecutors have noted that the offense does not threaten public safety enough to warrant a response by the criminal justice system—and that declining to prosecute these cases is a way to curb the racial inequities that result from disproportionate arrests of people of color for marijuana offenses.See Rachel Rice, “St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office Will Dismiss Some Smaller Marijuana Possession Cases,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 13, 2018,; Joe Trinacria, “Larry Krasner Sues Big Pharma, Drops All Marijuana Possession Charges,” Philadelphia Magazine, February 16, 2018,; and Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, “Low-Level Marijuana Prosecutions in Brooklyn by Over 91% This Year as District Attorney’s Office Expanded Declination Policy,” press release (New York: Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, July 27, 2018), Even in states that have legalized marijuana, people of color are arrested for marijuana possession at higher rates than white people, despite approximately equal rates of use. See Drug Policy Alliance, From Prohibition to Progress: A Status Report on Marijuana Legalization (New York: Drug Policy Alliance, 2018), 30-32 (the marijuana arrest rate for black people in Alaska is 10 times that of white people; 11 times in Washington, DC; triple in Colorado; and double in Washington State),