New York Expunges Criminal Records Of People Previously Convicted Of Marijuana Possession
New York’s state legislature has voted in favour of legalising marijuana and expunging the records of those with convictions for possession.
The Senate voted 40-23 to pass the legislation, with the Assembly later voting 100-49. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pledged to sign the bill and officially put it in law.
New York will become the 15th state in the US, alongside the District of Columbia, to legalise marijuana for recreational use amid growing pressure to decriminalise the drug. It also comes after its neighbouring state of New Jersey passed similar legislation.
As reported by ABC News, Cuomo said in a statement: ‘Tonight, the New York State Legislature took the first step in a major leap forward for the Empire State by passing legislation to legalise adult-use cannabis.’
He added: ‘For too long the prohibition of cannabis disproportionately targeted communities of color with harsh prison sentences and after years of hard work, this landmark legislation provides justice for long-marginalised communities, embraces a new industry that will grow the economy, and establishes substantial safety guards for the public.’
94% of the NYPD’s marijuana-related arrests in 2020 were Black and Latino people, CNBC reports. However, according to a health department survey, white respondents reported the highest use of the drug.
Those who were earlier found guilty of possession with an amount of marijuana now approved under the legal limit will be immediately open to having their records expunged or resentenced.
Cuomo said: ‘New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy. I look forward to signing this legislation into law.’
New York Attorney General Letitia James also said: ‘The legalisation of marijuana is a racial and criminal justice imperative, and today’s vote is a critical step towards a fairer and more just system.’
She added: ‘For too long, people of colour have been disproportionately impacted by an outdated and shortsighted marijuana prohibition, and it’s past time we right this wrong. We must also engineer an economy that will provide a much-needed boost to communities devastated by the war on drugs and COVID-19, and I am hopeful this will help to achieve that for New Yorkers.’
The new legislation could see more than 60,000 new jobs and $350 million each year in revenue. However, marijuana may not be ready for distribution until closer to 2022 as appropriate frameworks for selling still need to be set.
In addition to recreational use, New York residents will be permitted to grow up to three mature marijuana plants, with a maximum of six plants in one household.
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