New York Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Use, Will Expunge Previous Weed Convictions

Robyn Mowatt Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she…
Marijuana Plant
Photo Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis for Getty Images

Starting immediately, New Yorkers are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes.

New York has legalized recreational marijuana use for adults. 

Alongside this exciting news, the state has also announced it will expunge previous marijuana convictions of those convicted of crimes that will be considered legal under the latest law, per ABC.

On Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the cannabis legislation. This was a day after the State Legislature passed the bill in Albany. New York is the 15th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. 

Starting immediately, individuals are now allowed to possess up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes or “24 grams of concentrated forms of the drug, such as oils,” reports the New York Times.

Additionally, New Yorkers are permitted to smoke in public wherever smoking tobacco is lawful. However, smoking marijuana in schools, workplaces or inside a car is not permitted. Since tobacco smoking is banned in parks, beaches, boardwalks, pedestrian plazas, and playgrounds, smoking cannabis is also banned in these specific areas. 

The final legislation could create up to 60,000 jobs and generate $350 million in tax revenue for the state. A total sales tax rate of 14% includes 9% allocated for the state, 3% for the municipality where the sale is made and 1% for the county. Out of that 9%, 40% will be allocated to communities disproportionately impacted by prior drug laws, 20% for drug treatment and education, and 40% for schools.

Beyond the money, the state has also announced those with criminal records convicted of possessing an amount of cannabis now considered under the legal limit will automatically be up for expungement and re-sentencing.

“This effort was years in the making and we have finally achieved what many thought was impossible, a bill that legalizes marijuana while standing up for social equity, enhancing education and protecting public safety,” state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins shared in a statement.

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