On Monday (July 29) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will further decriminalize possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. The new law will take effect in 30 days.
By signing the bill, Cuomo has reduced the penalty for possessing up to two ounces of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine.
Another part of the law will establish a process allowing people with “certain marijuana convictions” to have their records expunged.
Communities of Color
“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,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “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, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”
Currently more than half of U.S. states have passed laws to allow the use of marijuana in some capacity.
In June, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that legalizes cannabis in the state for those 21 and older. The legislation also provides relief for “roughly 770,000” people in Illinois with marijuana-related offenses on their criminal records through an expungement process.
Social Equity Programs
Illinois went a step further to ensure what many consider a righteous approach to legalization, by including a “social equity program” to help former marijuana “offenders” get a leg up in the marijuana industry.
“Marijuana possession gives those convicted a criminal record that will follow them throughout their lives, potentially limiting their access to education, affecting their ability to obtain employment leading to a potential inability to provide for their families,” said New York state Senator Jamaal T. Bailey. “The creation of a mechanism for expungement… is a step in the right direction in finally ending the heavy-handed war on drugs that has decimated communities of color.”