New York expands on their marijuana decriminalization bill

New York lawmakers are back to discuss the legalization of marijuana, but sadly couldn’t come to an agreement. Instead, they decided to expand on their marijuana decriminalization bill. Hey, that is something! 

Now, some might ask “wasn’t marijuana already decriminalized in New York State?”

Under current New York State law (click here for specifics) possession of less than a 1/4 ounce is considered a violation which is a non criminal offense. It can still carry a heavy fine.  The most recent proposal by the New York State Legislature would make possession of up to two ounces of marijuana a violation.

The proposed bill has not yet been signed by Governor Cuomo. With that, there was also a loophole stating that the use of marijuana in open view or publicly is considered a misdemeanor. This loophole has allowed law enforcement to abuse it and has resulted in thousands of arrests.

Here are some numbers:

There were 13,482 arrests in 2018, a 60.7% decrease from 2013 statewide, according to figures provided by the State Department of Criminal Justice Services. The percentage declines were generally consistent for whites and blacks.

How will things change with the recently proposed laws?

Penal Law 221.05 will reduce the fine of having marijuana in public places as well as cap it for unlawful possession from originally $100 to $50 for a first offense. Along with that, people with previous cannabis-related conviction records will be expunged, but only certain offenses. This benefit will affect 600,000 New Yorkers.

First time offenders will be eligible for an ACD, adjournment in contemplation of dismissal – which means that if you have no further arrests this charge will be dismissed and the record sealed.  If you do get arrested again during the time the ACD is open, the case can be reopened against you in addition to the new charge. Now, this doesn’t mean you can go hotbox your car. Even though that isn’t in open view, Police can still have probable cause to search a car if they smell it.  Also, driving while your ability is impaired by drugs still remains a crime in New York so please do not partake and drive.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can go hotbox your car. Even though that isn’t in open view, Police can still have probable cause to search a car if they smell it. 

When will the bill be in effect?

The state Assembly and Senate passed the decriminalization bill last week. Afterward, the bill will be in effect 30 days after it is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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