The state of New York began the lengthy process of past cannabis conviction expungement on Wednesday of this week. A new law that the state passed earlier this year in June called for the process to start on Wednesday. It is reported that 10,872 citizens who reside in New York City will have no criminal record after the expungement process is completed. An additional 13,537 citizens who live in other parts of the state will also have no criminal record after expungement completion. Current estimations on the completion of all 160,000 records is up to one full year. The reason attributed to the length of time required is that the expungement process has never been done in New York before and is still under development.
State Senator Zellnor Myrie, co-sponsor of the bill, stated: “I represent Brownsville; that was ground zero for a lot of this. [Expunging records] is just the beginning of the state recognizing the errors of that war.”
The new law also reduced the penalty for amounts of cannabis possession between one and two ounces. Individuals caught in possession of one to two ounces of cannabis will receive a violation that carries a fine capped at $200. The fine associated with possession of less than one ounce was also lowered from $150 to $50.
New York began the reduction of cannabis penalties as far back as 1977 when it decriminalized possession of small amounts. The state legalized medicinal cannabis in 2014 with restrictions on inhalation and ingestion. In 2018, district attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn stopped the prosecution of cannabis possession cases and cases of public cannabis consumption.
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