The Manhattan district attorney's office, which past year chose to lighten penalties for some marijuana offenders, would decline to prosecute all but several hundred low-level marijuana cases annually under the plan, with some exceptions for people with serious criminal histories, a second official said.
"The dual mission of the Manhattan D.A.'s Office is a safer NY and a more equal justice system", said Vance.
The DA's office said it would consider recommendations from the city for "limited" exceptions to the policy.
O'Neill's announcement comes a day after he said the department is "addressing" a disparity in marijuana-related enforcement affecting minority New Yorkers during a City Council budget hearing.
On the same day, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said that his office would stop prosecuting most low-level marijuana offenses such as possession and smoking in public this summer, while Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said his office would only prosecute cases based on public safety concerns. "Although I can envision a NY where C summonses are appropriate in certain marijuana cases, I will reserve commenting further until after the NYPD's 30-day working group is complete".
De Blasio hinted at the policy change during a conference earlier Tuesday, announcing that the New York Police Department would "overhaul" its policies on enforcing marijuana cases in the next 30 days.
"At the same time, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the state of NY, and ultimately, this is an issue that should be decided in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way by the state Legislature, and not as a rushed reaction to the top news headlines of the day".
The Times reported that blacks in the city are eight times more likely to be arrested on low-level marijuana charges as whites and that the difference can not entirely be attributed to more residents in predominantly black neighborhoods calling police to complain about marijuana.
Johnson is calling on the NYPD to issue summonses instead of making arrests when someone is caught smoking pot in public.
"Today we are saying loud and clear that it is unfair, it is not right, and it needs to end right now", Johnson said.
"When people's lives are being upended for carrying a small amount of pot, something is wrong in our criminal justice system", Johnson said. And because people of color have been the primary targets in the city for decades, they are also more likely to have been arrested before on marijuana or other minor charges and have a criminal record in the first place. When people are being forced to miss work and miss out on time with their family over a low-level marijuana arrest, something is very wrong with our public policy. "We are needlessly running people through the criminal justice system... the law is being unevenly enforced". We are here today to say that we have had enough. The bill would effectively end marijuana prohibition in New York State and would create a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The plan won't likely interfere in the manner in which Police Officers conduct "stop and frisk" operations where they see fit. So when it's smoked in public, how do you handle it?