With the legalization of marijuana, New York will overturn previous convictions


New York is the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Law, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the state. The new legislation also scraps the files of people convicted on marijuana-related charges who are no longer punishable. Those with past convictions will be prioritized among those for licenses to grow, process, and sell marijuana products.

New Yorkers can now carry up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of concentrates such as oils and store up to five pounds at home. There are expansions to the state’s medical cannabis program, including the addition of more eligible conditions and a higher holding limit. The bill also bans using the scent of marijuana as a justification for searching someone’s car, although it can still be used as a reason to suspect the driver is intoxicated.

Advocates have long argued for reforms that address the disproportionate impact of drug criminalization on people of color. New Yorkers of color made up 94 percent of marijuana-related arrests and subpoenas in 2020, according to an analysis of NYPD data by The Legal Aid Society. “Due to the sheer magnitude of damage done to Black and Brown communities over the years, any marijuana reform that was implemented had to be equally comprehensive to begin repairing the damage,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Tax revenues from marijuana sales will be spent on education, vocational training, drug treatment programs and other community initiatives. “My goal in enacting this legislation has always been to end the racially disparate enforcement of the marijuana supply, which has taken such a heavy toll on colored communities in our state, and to stop the economic windfall of legalization. to help those same communities heal and recover, ”said Senator Liz Krueger, who sponsored the bill.

The law establishes “one of the most ambitious marijuana legalization programs in the nation,” said Melissa Moore, New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “New York has taken bold steps to put a nail in the coffin of the war on drugs.”