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The state of New York will be clearing a few of its residents from previous marijuana charges after a new Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill in July that removes criminal penalties for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana. It reduces the penalty for less than an ounce to a $50 fine, regardless of criminal history. For possession of 1-2 ounces, the maximum fine will be $200.
Over 150,000 residents will have their marijuana convictions sealed thanks to the new law.
Cuomo said the bill is a “start of a new chapter in the criminal justice system” and is long overdue. “By providing individuals a path to have their records expunged, including those who have been unjustly impacted based on their race or ethnicity, and reducing the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a fine, we are giving many New Yorkers the opportunity to live better and more productive, successful and healthier lives,” he said in a statement.
More than 202,000 convictions in the state from the late 1970s through mid-June of this year will be sealed and 24,409 people will no longer have a criminal record, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services spokeswoman Janine Kava told CNN.
Under the new law, convictions are automatically sealed in the system, but in order for the individuals to have the actual records destroyed, they must petition the court where the conviction occurred.
The New York General Assembly failed to legalize recreational marijuana use in June. Something New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio pushed for. The Decriminalization of marijuiana and the legalization of recreational.
Written by Clarke Jones