Manhattan DA Drops Over 3,000 Open Marijuana Cases Dating Back to 1978

Reuters is reporting a Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance dropped 3,042 open cannabis possession and consumption cases today. The cases, dating back to 1978, will have outstanding warrants vacated and the underlying charges dismissed. New York City Criminal Court Judge Kevin McGrath ordered the cases to be sealed within 90 days.

Manhattan DA Drops Open Cases, Not Prior Convictions

Earlier this summer, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced a new “decline to prosecute” policy for his office. The policy ordered prosecutors to stop filing charges against anyone booked on minor marijuana violations. The change effectively decriminalizes cannabis in the courtroom, and the DA’s office expects prosecutions to drop 96 percent.

Vance’s move today stems from the decline to prosecute policy. Prosecutors aren’t going to pursue charges for new marijuana violations the policy covers. And they aren’t going to go after open cases dating back to 1978, either.

In court today, Vance framed the move to drop the outstanding warrants and charges as a measure “in the interest of justice.” “By vacating these warrants, we are preventing unnecessary future interactions with the criminal justice system,” Vance said.

But there are practical considerations in play, also. The Manhattan DA’s office is short

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