New York Meeting Chamber

State lawmakers late final week superior laws to the Governor’s desk amending marijuana possession penalties and establishing procedures for the automated expungement of prior, low-level cannabis convictions.

The laws, Meeting Invoice 8420-A, reduces the penalty for minor marijuana possession violations (as much as one ounce) to a $50 advantageous. It additionally amends penalties for offenses involving the possession of a couple of ounce however lower than two ounces of cannabis from a felony misdemeanor to a non-criminal violation punishable by a $200 advantageous – no matter an offender’s prior felony historical past. Below present legislation, the possession of over 25 grams of marijuana is punishable by as much as three months in jail.

The measure additional amends the classification of offenses involving the use or possession of marijuana in public from a felony misdemeanor, punishable by as much as 90 days in jail, to a fine-only offense. In New York Metropolis alone, police sometimes make tens of 1000’s of marijuana arrests yearly underneath the ‘public view’ exception. Over 87 p.c of these charged with the crime are both Black or Latino.

Lastly, A. 8420-A establishes procedures to permit for the computerized expungement of felony information particular to crimes involving the possession of 25 grams or much less of marijuana.

Whereas a number of lawmakers expressed disappointment that members failed to maneuver ahead a extra expansive legalization proposal, they acknowledged that the adjustments proposed in Meeting Invoice 8420-A are an vital first step. “The drug legal guidelines which might be at present on the books have devastated our communities by disproportionately focusing on individuals of colour, forcing them to dwell with a felony file that makes it more durable to get a job or discover housing,” Meeting Speaker Carl Heastie stated in a assertion. “Decriminalizing marijuana, paired with expunging information for these low-level offenses, will assist undo a few of these a long time lengthy injustices, and permit for individuals to be productive and profitable. This isn’t the ultimate step, however it would lay the groundwork for full decriminalization and legalization sooner or later.”

A assertion issued collectively by varied New York NORML associates states that the proposed adjustments fail to both adequately tackle “the legacy of hurt from prohibition and focused enforcement” or present “a pathway ahead to a extra equitable future. … Our legislators and Governor Cuomo have failed in that regard, and have despatched a message to New Yorkers that racial and financial justice are usually not priorities for them.”

The measure takes impact 30 days after it’s signed into legislation by the Governor.

Supply: NORML – make a donation