New York law softening pot penalties goes into effect

Posted: Updated:

By RYAN TARINELLI
Associated Press


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York softened penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and created a process for erasing certain past offenses in a state law that went into place Wednesday.

The maximum penalty for possessing less than an ounce of pot has been lowered to $50. The legislation also turns an unlawful marijuana possession statute into a violation similar to a traffic ticket, instead of a criminal charge.

The criminal statute was responsible for hundreds of thousands of arrests over the past four decades, according to state data.

"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," said Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement issued Wednesday.

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. Under the law, they say people can still face immigration consequences and probation violations for basic marijuana possession.

Advocates said it also leaves the door open for law enforcement to continue targeting people of color and their communities.

Besides creating a process for expunging certain cases, records tied to low-level marijuana cases will be automatically sealed under the law.

New York's Division of Criminal Justice Services said the law will lead to the sealing of more than 200,000 convictions for low-level marijuana offenses.

At least 24,400 people will no longer have a criminal record under the law, according to the agency.

  • SlideshowsGalleriesMore>>

  • Congress holds public hearings in impeachment inquiry

    Congress holds public hearings in impeachment inquiry

    Photos from the public congressional hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and his administration's dealings with Ukraine.
    Photos from the public congressional hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and his administration's dealings with Ukraine.
  • Dog Day Fridays for Nov. 15

    Dog Day Fridays for Nov. 15

    Friday, November 15 2019 10:28 AM EST2019-11-15 15:28:42 GMT
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
    This week's dogs are up for adoption at Ruff House Rescue. The shelter is located in Oceanside. Their phone number is 516-306-4998.
  • Thanksgiving Day 2019 Shopping Guide

    Thanksgiving Day 2019 Shopping Guide

    If you are looking to start your holiday shopping before the turkey is out of the oven, here are stores that will be opened for Thanksgiving.
    If you are looking to start your holiday shopping before the turkey is out of the oven, here are stores that will be opened for Thanksgiving. 
sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."