New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted about signing legislation that decriminalizes marijuana use in New York, and that creates a process to expunge past convictions. He stated in the tweet, “Communities of color have been disproportionally impacted by-laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice.”
I just signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana use in New York & creating a process for expunging past convictions.
Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice. pic.twitter.com/PBSXWbQtiW
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) July 29, 2019
According to a statement released by the Governor’s office concerning the legislation:
“this legislation will address those racial and ethnic disparities by reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by fine, and by creating a process for individuals who have been convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana to have their records expunged.”
The bill is set to take effect 30 days after becoming a law. Thus, while one does not face a criminal conviction, based on the statement, for the possession of marijuana, they can be fined. Those convicted of possessing small amounts of the substance can also move to get their records expunged.
The statement also identifies supported by several lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, and Senator Jamaal T. Bailey.
For example, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins stated,
“Decriminalizing marijuana is an essential part of reforming our state's broken justice system. For too long, communities of color have been disproportionately targeted and negatively impacted. The Senate Democratic Majority will continue our efforts for full legalization and regulation of marijuana, and today's decriminalization is a good first step.”
Senator Jamaal T. Bailey also said also in the statement,
“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. The creation of a mechanism for expungement, both retroactively and forward-looking, is a step in the right direction in finally ending the heavy-handed war on drugs that has decimated communities of color. I want to thank the Assembly sponsor and Majority Leader of the Assembly Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for their commitment to this issue and ensuring this bill becomes law.”