Pubdate: Tue, 30 Jul 2019
Source: Independent  (UK)
Copyright: 2019 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.
Author: Andrew Buncombe


New York has decriminalised the use of marijuana - becoming the 16th
US state to do so.

The move, which would make possession of a small amount of the drug a
violation rather than a felony, was signed into law by governor Andrew

The measure also demands that criminal records of offences linked to
low-level marijuana cases either be marked as expunged, or destroyed -
an apparent reflection that in the past communities of colour suffered
unduly from different application of the law.

"Communities of colour have been disproportionately impacted by laws
governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this
injustice once and for all," Mr Cuomo said in a statement.

In many respects, the decision by politicians in the state capital,
Albany, is behind the trend in many parts of the country.

While New York has become the 16th to decriminalise the drug's use, 11
states plus the Districts of Columbia, otherwise known was Washington
DC, have legalised personal use. Its use remains a federal crime.

Those pushing for greater liberalisation welcomed the move, but urged
legislators to go further. Some said there were still many negative
consequences that come with having marijuana as an illegal violation.

"Police have historically found a way to work around the
decriminalisation of marijuana," said Erin George, of Citizen Action
of New York.

People can still face probation violations and immigration
consequences under the decriminalisation bill, she said.

The legislation signed by Mr Cuomo will make possession of less than
one ounce of marijuana punishable by a fine of up to $50. Possession
of two ounces will carry a fine of up to $200

The penalty is $50 for possessing less than one ounce of pot or a
maximum of $200 for one to two ounces. It will go into affect in 30

Additional reporting by Associated Press
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