NY State decriminalises marijuana use and vows to erase existing convictions

The New York State Senate has passed legislation to remedy the racial disparities embedded within the State’s marijuana drug laws. Not only that, but they’ve vowed to address the mountain of previous convictions associated with cannabis in the state.

Under this legislation, small amounts (under two ounces) of the plant drug will be decriminalised, and procedures will be put in place to set aside past and future criminal convictions.

new york state decriminalise marijuana use

“Communities of colour have borne the brunt of New York State’s marijuana drug laws. Our justice system directly reflects who we are as a society and that is why the Senate Majority is taking action to fix this broken system.” 

S.6579A aims to do five key things:

  1. Reduce the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by fine
  2. Implement expungement procedures for people previously and currently convicted of possession
  3. Remove criminal penalties for the possession of marijuana under two ounces
  4. Reduce the penalty to a $50 fine for possession under one ounce, and a $200 fine for possession between one and two ounces
  5. Add marijuana to the Public Health Legislation’s definition of “smoking”. Smoking marijuana will soon be prohibited where tobacco smoking is prohibited by law.

Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Majority Leader said, “This legislation is marking a momentous first step in addressing the racial disparities caused by the war on drugs. The Senate Majority continues to move forward on full legalisation and I thank Senator Jamaal Bailey for his leadership on this issue.”

This news comes in light of information released earlier in the year about a bill that may legalise marijuana across the US.