What to Know
- Gov. Cuomo signed legislation Monday decriminalizing marijuana use in the state of New York
- The law reduces unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine
- Additionally, it also creates a process for individuals convicted of certain marijuana offenses to have their records expunged
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Monday decriminalizing marijuana use in the state of New York.
The law reduces unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine.
Additionally, it also creates a process for individuals convicted of certain marijuana offenses to have their records expunged.
The governor's office said that New York's existing marijuana laws disproportionately affects African American and Latino communities, and the legislation addresses the racial and ethnic disparities.
"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," Cuomo said.
The bill will take effect 30 days after becoming law.
Lawmakers in New York state voted last month to eliminate criminal penalties for public possession and use of marijuana after efforts to legalize pot stalled.
"It's not legalization," he said on public radio previously. "But it is decriminalization and it's a major, major accomplishment."
The bill emerged as a fallback option when legislation that would have legalized, regulated and taxed marijuana sales fizzled last month after lawmakers couldn't reach consensus on key details, such as how tax revenue would be used and how local communities would decide whether they want to host dispensaries.
Lawmakers who had hoped to vote on legalization said the decriminalization bill may be a prelude to full legalization next year.
Estimates are that nearly 600,000 New Yorkers could benefit from the expungement of past marijuana convictions.
Opposition to the change was led by Republican lawmakers who said they worried that decriminalizing marijuana would increase traffic crashes and drug use by minors.