Two stories in The New York Times Wednesday night and Thursday morning brought up two ways that you can get busted for small amounts of marijuana in New York City, where possession of less than seven-eighths of an ounce is supposed to be nothing more than a violation, punishable by a $100 fine. In each, it's not the pot that gets you busted but the circumstances around the pot, and the consequences can be as dire as losing custody of your children.
A City Room blog post from Wednesday night brought news that New York City Council members had introduced a resolution designed to curb persistently numerous illegal searches by police officers. Back in April, WNYC reported in a two-part series that such searches on city streets had increased, and that the searches themselves were creating more serious marijuana infractions. Under state law, simple possession of a small amount of marijuana can be punished by no more than a $100 fine. But if you bring the marijuana out into the open, "the violation becomes a criminal offense," The Times points out, "even when this happens only after the police ask people they stop to empty their pockets or purses." The WNYC study found many reports of police reaching into the pockets of those they stopped on the street and pulling out small amounts of pot.