BUFFALO, NY - Some Western New York prosecutors may review their drug arrest policies after Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced he will stop prosecuting low-level marijuana cases as of August 1.
While there will be some exceptions, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio also says the New York Police Department will overhaul its city-wide pot arrest policies in the next 30 days.
From Buffalo City Hall to the Niagara County Courthouse, officials are reviewing arrest policies for possession of small amounts of marijuana perhaps with some guidance from New York City and Albany.
Niagara County District Attorney Caroline Wojtaszek told 2 on Your Side, "I would assume that other D.A.'s offices will take a look at the policy... certainly no promises across the state by any means that there will be change. Certainly an interesting proposition. There are exceptions that they've already carved out so we're gonna take a look at it like we do any new policy that comes from across the state."
Wojtaszek said she'll discuss the issue with her office's top prosecutors, law enforcement, and Niagara County's drug task force.
As Channel 2's Claudine Ewing recently reported advocates in Buffalo are pushing Mayor Brown to also change policy citing racial disparity and a study from New York City showing eight out of ten people arrested for low level pot possession are African American.
"So we just want the Mayor to tell the Buffalo Police to stop arresting people for low level marijuana possession," India Walton with Open Buffalo said.
Mayor Brown responded, "We're looking at this on a very proactive basis.
Claudine Ewing asked, 'Do you foresee something happening soon?'
Brown responded: I foresee that something could happen."
We asked Wojtaszek about the seemingly more conservative political situation in upstate New York.
2 On Your Side asked, "Perhaps more of a controversial move here in upstate New York as opposed to down in New York City shall we say ?
Wojtaszek: Certainly it's a different political climate...that I will agree with you...but at the same time I don't think District Attorneys should make their decision based on the political climate."
Wojtaszek says county district attorney's make specific policy decisions for their offices. She expects a major discussion as DA's from around the state meet for their annual gathering in early July.
We were not able to reach Erie County District Attorney John Flynn for this story.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration and some state lawmakers are also looking at overall decriminalization proposals with conditions.