The Bronx Defenders releases its report “The Hidden Tax: Economic Costs of Marijuana Enforcement in the Bronx and New York City”


December 17, 2014

Contact: Scott Levy, The Bronx Defenders, 718-838-7833,

The Hidden Tax: Economic Costs of Marijuana Enforcement in the Bronx and New York City

New York – The Bronx Defenders released The Hidden Tax: Economic Costs of Marijuana Enforcement in New York, a report by The Bronx Defenders Fundamental Fairness Project (“FFP”) that documents the economic hardships New York residents face as a result of the City’s marijuana enforcement policies.

Between April and June 2014, FFP interviewed 167 people arrested for low-level marijuana possession in the Bronx. The data that FFP collected through these interviews suggest that the City’s marijuana enforcement policies and practices cost the residents of the Bronx, and New York City more broadly, millions of dollars a year in fines, court fees, and lost wages, in addition to countless missed days of work and appointments, school absences, and childcare complications. These costs and disruptions act as a hidden regressive tax on the residents of low-income communities of color and present another obstacle to economic opportunity and financial and social stability.

The 167 respondents interviewed for the report missed a total of at least 76 days of work due to arrests and court dates, losing an average of $128.13 per day. Respondents who received adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (ACDs) – and thus had no direct court-related costs – still experienced significant negative economic consequences, missing a total of 50 days of work and losing an average of $132.41 per day. From 2009 to 2013, costs arising from marijuana arrests totaled $7 million in the Bronx and a staggering $24 million citywide.

The report’s findings underscore the urgent need for reforms that will address two of the most pressing issues associated with the City’s marijuana enforcement practices – racially disproportionate policing and the collateral costs imposed on low-income communities.

To learn more about The Hidden Tax, please visit for the full report or for the executive summary.