Legal Marijuana In New York: Questions Remaining
A number of questions remain concerning the decriminalization (and legalization) of marijuana in New York. Linked to these questions are those related to the state’s approach to CBD products and where things are headed in terms of past drug infractions. Currently, there is a significant amount of uncertainty concerning all of these issues, which can sometimes lead to people being arrested and charged with crimes when they did not realize certain activities were illegal.
While marijuana was not legalized in New York, the state did move forward with certain decriminalization measures this year, and there is a bill currently before Gov. Cuomo that attempts to clarify its stance on cannabis products. In addition, those involved in legalization efforts are optimistic about recreational use of marijuana being legalized over the next year.
What Did New York Do?
The measure that did pass in New York clears records for previous low-level convictions and reduces current penalties for possession. Specifically, the penalty for possessing less than two ounces is now a violation (similar to a traffic violation) versus a misdemeanor. This means an individual would just be fined versus incurring criminal charges on their record. This not only applies to activities in your home, but if you are stopped on the street – i.e. the use of marijuana in public – as well. This is expected to affect a number of stop and frisk cases in particular, as historically, a number of police stop people for one reason and then arrest them for marijuana possession.
In addition, upwards of 800,000 criminal possession cases involving approximately 500,000 people are expected to be expunged from records by 2020. Still, in order to have these records destroyed, people will still likely need to hire an attorney.
What About Complete Legalization/Decriminalization?
New York is arguably different from the 11 other states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana because there was no mandate from the public in terms of a referendum, even though a majority of New Yorkers support legalization and legalizing the substance in a way that attempts to make reparations for those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana crimes and the ‘war on drugs.’
The issue of whether New Yorkers will be able to grow their own marijuana is another hot button question involved in legalization discussions. While Gov. Cuomo’s plan did now allow for it, other proposals would have allowed for adults to possess up to six plants for personal – but not commercial – use.
Contact Our New York Drug Crime Defense Attorney If You Are Facing Charges
Keep in mind that decriminalization is never the same as legalization: Using marijuana is still considered to be illegal in New York, and growing and selling the substance will result in major penalties. Indeed, conviction for a drug crime – including those related to marijuana – still carries serious consequences. If you have been arrested or charged with such an offense, contact experienced New York criminal defense attorney Phillip J. Murphy for a free consultation to find out how we can help.