NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that further decriminalizes marijuana possession in the state.
Now, residents won’t have to fear criminal prosecution for possession of up to 2 ounces of the drug. Under the new law, possession of up to 1 ounce of the drug would invite a fine of $50, while carrying up to 2 ounces would take the fine to $200.
The bill also would expunge records for past marijuana convictions.
“We are taking a crucial step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process 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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Mellisa Moore with the Drug Policy Alliance, however, is disappointed with the new law. She believes that it doesn’t go far enough to address “collateral consequences” of years of marijuana criminalization that adversely affect African American and Latinx communities. Moore added that the new law doesn’t stop the police from apprehending people if they catch someone in possession of decriminalized marijuana.
The drug policy alliance, Legal Aid Society and other advocates issued a statement that they will continue to press lawmakers to legalize adult-use of marijuana. They were unable to get enough votes in the state Senate this time, but Moore said polls show support among the residents for legalization and she hopes to have more success in the 2020 legislative session.
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