There were a lot of disappointed New Yorkers this week. Governor Cuomo’s promise to legalize cannabis in the state has been an up and down battle for the past few months. A bill to fully legalize cannabis made enormous progress through the state legislature, but was finally shut down due to inability to agree on social justice and regulatory issues.
Image courtesy of Raihan Rana
Instead, the legislature did the next best thing–they further decriminalized cannabis possession, and promised to begin expunging cannabis criminal records. The bill was passed in the last legislative hours by both the State Assembly and Senate, and is now headed to the governor’s desk, where he is expected to sign it.
You can read the bill here.
In short, the bill says:
- Possession of under two ounces will no longer be a criminal offense, and fines will be reduced.
- A person is guilty of unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree when they knowingly and unlawfully possesses marijuana. The fine will be $50.
- A person is guilty of unlawful possession of marijuana in the first degree when they knowingly and unlawfully possess one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marijuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than one ounce. The fine will be $200.
- Procedures will be established to automatically expunge criminal records for possession.
- Smoking marijuana has been added to the official definition of “smoking” under Public Health Law so that cannabis smoking can be prohibited wherever tobacco smoking is prohibited.
It’s not legalization, but it’s a start!
Meanwhile, remember that these fines only apply to unlawful possession of cannabis. If you’re considering using cannabis medicinally and have a qualifying condition for medical cannabis use, you can become a registered patient to use cannabis products legally. To find out if you qualify, contact NuggMD for an appointment today.