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Marijuana decriminalization signed into law, creating process to have records expunged for some offenders

Posted at 11:09 AM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 16:45:02-04

ALBANY — Governor Cuomo signed marijuana decriminalization legislation Monday, reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine. The bill also creates a process for those with certain marijuana-related convictions to have their records expunged.

"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 of the legislation.

"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."

The governor's office says the legislation will make marijuana enforcement more equitable by reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine and removing criminal penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana under two ounces. It will also create a process for individuals convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana to have their records expunged both retroactively and for future convictions.

The law will go into effect in 30 days.