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New York state limits marijuana penalties

July 29, 2019

Anyone caught with a small amount of pot in New York can expect to receive a fine as opposed to a jail term. Governor Andrew Cuomo has previously announced his intention to legalize recreational usage of the drug.

Marijuana buds
Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Medina

The US state of New York took measures to further decriminalize possession of marijuana on Monday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that means anyone caught with a small amount of the drug will not be facing jail time and will receive a fine instead.

When the modified legislation comes into effect in 30 days, a penalty of $50 (€45) will be imposed for possessing less than one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or a maximum fine of $200 for one to two ounces.

Read more: Germany delays roll-out of medical marijuana

Cuomo set out the aim of the change: "Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all."

"We are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process," the Democrat governor added.

However, there was some skepticism: Erin George of Citizen Action of New York said, "Police have historically found a way to work around the decriminalization of marijuana."

Cuomo said the new measures would clear the records of people who previously have been
criminally convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana. At least 24,400 people will no longer have a criminal record as a result of the bill, according to New York's Division of Criminal Justice Services.

jsi/jm (AP, Reuters)

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