Recreational marijuana use was decriminalized in New York State on Monday. This means that people caught will a small amount of it will pay a fine and not face jail time.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is the one behind the idea of legalizing marijuana and he said that this measure will allow a mechanism for clearing the records of people who had been criminally convicted of small amounts of weed.
According to Marijuana Policy Project, eleven states in the U.S. along with the District of Columbia have fully legalized recreational marijuana since the state of Colorado was the first one to do it five years ago, and additional 15 states have decriminalized.
“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,’’ stated Cuomo.
More than 360,000 people were arrested for possession of weed in the state of New York in the period from 2008 to 2017 according to data from the FBI.
Back in December, Cuomo also said that legalizing recreational marijuana use was one of his top legislative priorities for this year. He added that the revenue from taxing marijuana could solve lots of problems like the NYC subway system.
Reuters reported that the efforts of New York lawmakers to legalize the plant collapsed in June and disagreement among Democrats on how to regulate the industry, prompting the introduction of the decriminalization bill. The failure to legalize marijuana fully highlights a split among New York Democrats who control both of the state legislative chambers after their victory in November.
Even though marijuana is legal in several states in the U.S., President Donald Trump allowed prosecutors to enforce federal law in those states.