By / September 18, 2019

New York governor signs bill decriminalizing marijuana use

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana use in New York State. New York’s marijuana laws mostly affect African American and Latino communities. This legislation will address racial and ethnic disparities.

Furthermore, it will reduce the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine. 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.

Individuals who have suffered the consequences

“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by-laws governing marijuana for far too long. However, 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.

“We mean to create a path to have records expunged and reducing penalties. New York is taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”

Marijuana Plant
Several states, including Washington, have legalized marijuana. (Source)

Will go a long way towards helping communities

Furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Decriminalizing marijuana is an essential part of reforming our state’s broken justice system. Communities of color have been disproportionately targeted and negatively impacted. However, the Senate Democratic Majority will continue our efforts for full legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

Also, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “This law is an important step in fighting 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.”

“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. Furthermore, they can find a job, housing and go on to live successful and productive lives.”

This legislation will make marijuana enforcement fairer and more equitable by:

Senator Jamaal T. Bailey said, “Marijuana possession gives those convicted a criminal record. It will follow them throughout their lives, potentially limiting their access to education. It will affect their ability to obtain employment leading to a potential inability to provide for their families.”

“The creation of a mechanism for expungement is a step in the right direction. Furthermore, I want to thank the Assembly sponsor and Majority Leader of the Assembly Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Governor Andrew Cuomo. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for their commitment to this issue and ensuring this bill becomes law.”

The new bill, approved by New York’s state legislature earlier this year, will reduce unlawful marijuana possession to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine. Also, it establishes a process for individuals with certain marijuana convictions for their records. A major sticking point for criminal justice reform advocates.

signing the bill decriminalizing marijuana use
Hawaii became the 26th state to legalize or decriminalize the drug earlier this month. (Source)

The bill will take effect 30 days after becoming law

The bill signed on Monday follows a recent wave of legislation legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana at the state level. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill earlier this month. The bill would decriminalize marijuana and expunge previous convictions nationally.

The plan to legalize the drug in New York faced a hurdle earlier this year.  Furthermore, Cuomo announced he was dropping the plan from this upcoming budget.

(Featured Image by Mike C. Valdivia)

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