Though New York state decriminalized weed in the 70’s, it is topped only by Illinois in the number of pot arrests relative to users, according to a series of infographics published by Addiction-Treatment.com. A Vox article points out that Stop-and-Frisk plays a big role in upping New York’s numbers:
As the Marijuana Policy Project explained, there is an exception in New York’s decriminalization law for marijuana that’s within public view. Police officers reportedly used that exception to arrest people, particularly minorities, by getting them to empty their pockets during searches and expose marijuana that would otherwise remain hidden.
While many states hover around 2,000 to 4,000, New York arrests 17,095 out of 100,000 users yearly. But that’s nothing on Illinois, which arrests over 30,000 people for every 100,000 pot users annually. Compare those figures to Massachussets, which only arrests 275 out of 100,000.
A chart by the ACLU from 2010 showed that black people were 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for weed charges than whites, which may help partially explain the higher numbers of arrests in New York or Illinois, which have some of the largest black populations in the nation. As with many facets of the war on drugs, behind the statistics, there is systemic racism at play.