Peoples-Stokes calls decriminalization “essential step”

Local News

State leaders were not ready to pass a bill that fully legalized adult use of recreational marijuana, so this was the three-way compromise agreed upon by the assembly, senate and governor

Crystal Peoples-Stokes, who was one of the earliest local leaders to come out in support of legalized marijuana, says this bill is an essential step in getting there.

This bill does away with charging pot in public as a misdemeanor and makes it only punishable by a fine.

Similarly, possession of one or two ounces will be punishable only by a $50 or $200 fine, respectively.

The bigger win, according to Peoples-Stokes, is clearing the criminal histories of people affected by the old law.

“These convictions of low-level marijuana crimes actually prevented people from getting jobs because they had to say they were convicted felons. It prevented them from getting access to PAIL because PAIL doesn’t provide resources to people who have been convicted. It prevented them from living in public housing,” Peoples-Stokes said. 

Not everyone is going to eligible.

An expungement will depend on if a marijuana conviction is tied in with certain other convictions or not.

Court administrators and the Department of Criminal Justice Services would have to identify those cases.

The new law would take effect 30 days after Governor Cuomo signs it, which he is expected to.

One thing that’s not totally clear yet is how people can find out and make sure their record has been cleared.

This law also requires the establishment of an informational campaign to help people figure that out.

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