New York Senate advances measure to expunge marijuana convictions

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The new legislation covers older cases not included in a previous bill

In a new bill that was just approved by the New York Senate, the pool of people eligible to get their records expunged automatically due to low-level marijuana offenses has been increased. Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the new law to expand the decriminalization for cannabis possession, which helped authorities expunge several criminal records; however, the language used did not apply to old cases dated before 1977. The main issues is that they were categorized differently under state laws, so this new bill was issued to put an end to that problem.

“This bill amends the criminal procedure law to ensure those convicted of certain lower-level marijuana possession offenses prior to the creation of marijuana-specific offenses in 1977 are eligible to have their crimes automatically expunged,” a summary states. This new bill aims to provide clarity to the current language and, instead of saying that people had a cannabis “violation or violations,” it was replaced with “misdemeanor and/or violation.”

The bill cleared the Senate with enough support and the vote was 41-19 for the bill sponsored by Senator Brian Benjamin. From there, it went to the Assembly and then to the chamber’s Codes Committee. NY has been working on several cannabis reforms lately, including one that was approved almost at the same time in which tenants can’t be evicted because they use medicinal marijuana. These are small wins for the state that has been struggling and failing to reach an agreement that would run legal recreational sales in the state, even if Cuomo proposed this in his budget presentations for the past two years.