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New York State Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis After Failing To Fully Legalize It

New York State Votes To Decriminalize Cannabis After Failing To Fully Legalize It

State lawmakers in New York voted to end criminal penalties for possession and use of marijuana after failing to reach agreement on a plan for full legalization of cannabis. Possession of small amounts will now only bring a fine under the measure approved Friday.

What Happened

New York lawmakers ended their legislative session on Friday after failing to pass legislation to become the 12th state to legalize cannabis. Backers said they’ll try again next year.

The state Assembly instead approved a bill that will make possession of less than an ounce of cannabis a violation subject to a $50 fine, with larger fines for possession of up to two ounces. More than two ounces will still be considered a crime. Smoking marijuana in public remains a finable violation.

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Why It’s Important

The measure will also allow people with past convictions for possession of small amounts to have their records expunged. Supporters said the nation’s drug war fell disproportionately on minorities, and many convicted of minor marijuana offenses had trouble getting work because of the convictions.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jamaal Bailey, a Bronx Democrat, said in a press release that 80% of marijuana arrests in New York state are of black and Latino people.

“This is a step in the right direction in finally ending the heavy-handed war on drugs that has decimated communities of color,” Bailey said.

What’s Next

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will sign the decriminalization legislation.

“It makes the situation much better especially for the black and brown community that has paid such a high price,” Cuomo said in a radio interview on New York’s WAMC.

Related Links:

Sorry, But New York Probably Won't Legalize Marijuana This Year

Illinois To Become 11th State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana


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Posted-In: Andrew Cuomo Cannabis Decriminalization Cuomo CannabisCannabis Government Politics Markets General Best of Benzinga

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