Governor Cuomo yesterday (July 29) signed legislation that effectively decriminalizes the adult use of marijuana in New York State, reducing the penalty for unlawful possession to a violation and creating a process for those with minor pot charges to have their records expunged.
Under the new legislation, possession cases of under two ounces of marijuana would no longer face criminal penalty.
A process will also be developed for individuals with certain marijuana convictions to have their records expunged both retroactively and for future convictions.
The bill will officially take effect 30 days after becoming law.
Governor Cuomo: “Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all. By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins: “Decriminalizing marijuana is an essential part of reforming our state’s broken justice system. For too long, communities of color have been disproportionately targeted and negatively impacted. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue our efforts for full legalization and regulation of marijuana, and today’s decriminalization is a good first step.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie: “This law is an important step in righting decades of injustice caused by the state’s current drug laws. Decriminalizing marijuana and expunging records for those with low level offenses will go a long way towards helping our communities, and especially people of color, who have been devastated by them. By removing the barriers and stigma that come with these records, we clear the path for many New Yorkers to find a job, housing and go on to live successful and productive lives.”