This article was first seen in print as part of our 2nd issue which was published in the Fall of 2019.

New York State has finally decriminalized possession of marijuana. The law took effect late last month and downgrades the possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a fine.

“For too long communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the laws governing marijuana and have suffered the lifelong consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction, today is the start of a new chapter in the criminal justice system.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo

So what changes?

Possession
Possessing less than 2 ounces of marijuana is now a violation, not a crime. However, you can still be arrested, but it won’t result in time in prison or a criminal record.

Fines
The fine for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana decreased from $100 to $50 and won’t increase because of criminal history. The fine for possession of 1-2 ounces is $200 regardless of criminal history.

Expungement
Most past convictions for possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana will b automatically expunged.

Public use
Marijuana is added to the definition of smoking in the public health law, so smoking marijuana is prohibited everywhere that smoking is prohibited.