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New York officially decriminalises cannabis

Governor Andrew Cuomo has relaxed the law around cannabis possession in New York. Under the new legislation, the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana is reduced to a violation punishable by a fine. In effect, it decriminalises the law around cannabis in the city. The penalty is $50 for possessing less than an ounce of pot or a maximum of $200 for 1 to 2 ounces. There will be no criminal penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana under two ounces.

Enlightened legislation aimed at minorities

This also allows for people who have certain marijuana convictions to have their records expunged. Supporters of the legislation say marijuana laws have disproportionately affected African American and Latino communities for years. Cuomo calls the law;

“a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”

The legislation falls short of legalising recreational marijuana, a step that New York lawmakers have been wrestling with for months, before being able to come to an agreement by the end of the legislative session in June.  In a statement, Cuomo said, “Communities of colour have been disproportionately impacted by-laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all.”

“By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process.”

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