What will New York decriminalizing marijuana actually mean?

New York marijuana law

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A new state law taking effect later this month reduces the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and expunges some past marijuana convictions.

In July, Governor Andrew Cuomo, signed a bill further decriminalizing marijuana.

The law removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana under two ounces.

That means if you get caught with up to two ounces of marijuana you could get a violation similar to a traffic ticket.

Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli says that changes the way his officers will do things.

“That means that now you don’t have to bring the person in to process or tie up more time as an arrest. So, it’s basically getting a parking ticket. That’s what they did by doing that,” said Carpinelli.

A ticket under the new law will also cost you less. The penalty for possessing less than one ounce of pot will be $50. For possessing one to two ounces the maximum fine will be $200; down from $500.

But, it’s important to point out, decriminalization is not legalization. The penalties for possessing more than two ounces of pot as well as selling or growing marijuana will stay the same.

Something else the law does is allow some past marijuana convictions to be expunged or wiped off a record. According to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, 405 convictions that happened in Jefferson County will be expunged, 57 in Lewis County and 561 in St. Lawrence County.

Governor Cuomo called the law "a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process."

Sheriff Carpinelli says he doesn’t think it’s right.

“This once again, helps the criminal. Bottom line, helps the criminal. Doesn’t do anything good for society,” said Carpinelli.

The law takes effect on August 28th.

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