Marijuana is Officially Decriminalized in New York State
It took years, but marijuana has officially been decriminalized across the Empire State.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo first proposed the further decriminalization of marijuana in 2013, and again in the 2020 Budget.
At the end of July, Cuomo finally signed legislation that decriminalized marijuana in New York State. The law officially went into effect in the Empire State on Wednesday.
"This law is long overdue, and it is a significant step forward in our efforts to end this repressive cycle and ultimately mend our discriminatory criminal justice process once and for all," Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday.
The law reduces the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine and removes criminal penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana under two ounces.
The legislation also creates a process for individuals with certain marijuana convictions to have their records expunged both retroactively and for future convictions.
It's estimated that 23 thousand New Yorkers will automatically have their records expunged of low-level marijuana convictions.
"Today is the start of a new chapter in the criminal justice system. By providing individuals a path to have their records expunged, including those who have been unjustly impacted based on their race or ethnicity, and reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a fine, we are giving many New Yorkers the opportunity to live better and more productive, successful and healthier lives," Cuomo said. "For too long communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana and have suffered the life-long consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction."