Brendan Keany

Peoples-Stokes Pleased with Further Decriminalization of Marijuana

"This is an important first step...but there is more to be done."

June 24, 2019 - 2:26 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - The New York State Legislature whiffed on full-scale marijuana legalization this year, and while many are voicing their frustration, many officials are pleased that they were able to at least further decriminalize the drug late last week.

State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes has long been a champion for adult use marijuana legalization, and she's clearly annoyed that the legislature wasn't able to push anything through this session. 

"I want to thank you all for being here to discuss what is part of getting the job done on the legalization of marijuana," she began. "By passing this bill, we will bring hope and relief to thousands of New Yorkers through the expungement of low-level marijuana records and by preventing unnecessary arrests for small amounts of marijuana. This is an important first step to take toward marijuana justice, but there is more to be done."

Some other aspects of the legislation:

  • For under one ounce, possession is punishable by a fine not to exceed $50
  • For under two ounces, possession is punishable by a fine not to exceed $200
  • Removes marijuana in public view or being burned as a misdemeanor
  • Creates a definition of expungement 
  • Tasks the Office of Court Administration with identifying cases to be automatically expunged 

The law will take effect 30 days after Governor Cuomo signs the bill, and all indications point to him signing.

Peoples-Stokes remains adamant that marijuana legalization is still coming to New York even if it has taken more time than what lawmakers, or the public, had originally thought. She also called out representatives from Long Island who she says are putting their own interests over those of their constituents.

"I think it's people's personal opinions; they're not speaking for the constituents that they represent," she said. "They were speaking for themselves and how they feel about a drug that has been villainized for the last 30 years, and there's a lack of understanding - hopefully their voters will speak to them."

Listen to the full press conference below:

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