Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday signed legislation further decriminalizing marijuana use in New York State – meaning marijuana is now legal in the state. New York’s existing marijuana laws disproportionately affect African American and Latino communities, and this legislation will address those racial and ethnic disparities by reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine, and by creating a process for individuals who have been convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana to have their records expunged. The governor first proposed the further decriminalization of marijuana in 2013, and again in the FY 2020 Budget. The bill will take effect 30 days after becoming law.
“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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.”
This legislation will make marijuana enforcement fairer and more equitable by:
Reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine and removing criminal penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana under two ounces; and
Creating a process for individuals with certain marijuana convictions to have their records expunged both retroactively and for future convictions.