New York law softening pot penalties goes into effect

August 28, 2019 06:35 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A New York state law softens penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and creates a process for erasing certain past offenses.

The maximum penalty is now $50 for possessing less than an ounce of pot. The law took effect Wednesday.


It also turns an unlawful marijuana possession statute into a violation similar to a traffic ticket, instead of a criminal charge.

Records tied to low-level marijuana cases will be automatically sealed under the law.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement Wednesday touting the law as a "significant step forward." He says the law is "long overdue."

Advocates for marijuana legalization have argued the law is a positive step but falls short of addressing negative consequences that come with keeping the drug illegal.

Hear reaction from Alice Green with the Center for Law and Justice, along with Albany County D.A. David Soares, by watching the video of Dan Levy's story.

You can read Gov. Cuomo's full statement below:

"For too long communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana and have suffered the life-long consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction.

"Today is the start of a new chapter in the criminal justice system. By providing individuals a path to have their records expunged, including those who have been unjustly impacted based on their race or ethnicity, and reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a fine, we are giving many New Yorkers the opportunity to live better and more productive, successful and healthier lives.

"This law is long overdue, and it is a significant step forward in our efforts to end this repressive cycle and ultimately mend our discriminatory criminal justice process once and for all."



Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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