Hundreds of thousands of NY residents are eligible for a clean slate under the new measure.
Though it doesn’t appear that New York will be seeing recreational cannabis shops any time soon, the state’s governor is offering needed consolation to residents while the state legislature sorts itself out.
Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law Assembly Bill 8420-A, a new measure that reduces fines for possession and public consumption of cannabis, according to NORML. Under the new law, possession of up to an ounce is punishable by a $50 fine. Possession of more than an ounce, but less than two — previously punishable by up to 90 days in jail — will now run you $200 and is no longer classified as a criminal misdemeanor. Smoking in public spaces — the enforcement of which has led to tens of thousands of annual arrests and disproportionately targets communities of color in NYC — has been reduced to a fine-only offense.
Along with the sweeping reductions in penalties, the new bill puts into place procedures for the automatic expungement of prior convictions involving the possession of less than 25 grams. NORML notes that hundreds of thousands of NY state residents are now eligible to have their records cleared.
In a statement, Gov. Cuomo addressed his decision to sign the bill: “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.
8420-A goes into effect on August 28th.