NYS Assembly votes to decriminalize marijuana, expunge criminal records

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and expunging the criminal records of those with low-level marijuana convictions has now passed the NYS Assembly, leaders announced Friday morning.

The bill (A.8420-A, Peoples-Stokes) redefines unlawful marijuana possession in the first-degree as possessing more than one ounce of marijuana, resulting in a maximum fine of $200. Second-degree unlawful possession would result in a maximum fine of $50.

Currently, possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view, or the burning of marijuana is often charged as a misdemeanor, resulting in many New Yorkers living with marijuana possession-related criminal records.

“The drug laws that are currently on the books have devastated our communities by disproportionately targeting people of color, forcing them to live with a criminal record that makes it harder to get a job or find housing,” said Speaker Carl Heastie.

The bill would also expunge the records of those with certain misdemeanor marijuana-related records or charges.

The bill passed the New York State Senate on Thursday and now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

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