New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D) on Monday signed a bill decriminalizing using marijuana within the state and expunge the records of some folks convicted on cannabis-related charges.
“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we’re ending this injustice once and for all,” Cuomo stated in a statement.
“By offering people who’ve suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by lowering draconian penalties, we’re taking a critical step forward in addressing a damaged and discriminatory criminal justice process.”
The brand new bill, accepted by New York’s state legislature earlier this year, will reduce illegal marijuana possession to a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.
Possession under two ounces is not going to be met with criminal penalties.
It additionally establishes a process for people with certain marijuana convictions to have their records cleared both retroactively and for future convictions, a significant sticking point for criminal justice reform advocates.
The bill will take impact 30 days after changing into law.
Cuomo previously proposed decriminalizing marijuana in 2013.
The bill signing Monday follows a current wave of legislation legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana at the state level.
Hawaii became the 26th state to decriminalize the drug earlier this month.
(D-Calif.) Sen. Kamala Harris and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) earlier this month introduced a bill that will decriminalize marijuana and expunge previous convictions nationally.
The plan to legalize the drug in New York faced a hurdle before this year when Cuomo introduced he was dropping the plan from the state’s upcoming funds, arguing state lawmakers needed more time to achieve an agreement.