Inside NY’s new marijuana decriminalization law: How it works


Legalization of marijuana for recreational use failed in New York this year. So lawmakers turned instead to “decriminalization.”

But what, exactly, does that mean?

Here’s how one advocate who favored legalization sees decriminalization:

“You can have some (marijuana) but you can’t buy it, can’t sell it, can’t trade or grow it and you’ll still be arrested if you do any of those,” said Gary Colmey of Rome, an active member of Legalize It! CNY. “But you can ‘possess’ some. … And where, then, does it come from? The sky?”

Increasing the amount of marijuana you can possess without facing a criminal charge — and reducing fines for low-level possession — are some of the key pieces of the new “decrim” bill. It essentially amends and expands a partial decriminalization law New York adopted in 1977.

Another part of the new law expunges, or clears, the records of those convicted of minor marijuana crimes.

But decriminalized marijuana is not legal marijuana. You still might be stopped for smoking a joint in public — but it’s likely to be a ticket citation, not a misdemeanor criminal offense that goes on your permanent record. [Read more at New York Upstate]