Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced that his office will no longer prosecute most charges for the use or possession of marijuana in public. This following a July 13th report issued by the state health department recommending legalization of the drug, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo suggested that it was not a question of if, but when legalization would happen in New York.
“Our Office will exit a system wherein smoking a joint can ruin your job, your college application, or your immigration status, but our advocacy will continue. I urge New York lawmakers to legalize and regulate marijuana once and for all,” the district attorney said.
Here’s what you need to know before you start getting higher than the skyscrapers on the streets of New York.
Foremost, pot in New York is still illegal outside of medicinal usage, but the penalty for smoking in the streets is going to be severly reduced from arrest, to a ticket. The tickets are criminal court summonses, which means you have to show up in court and issue a plea. First offenses can be as small as a fine of around $100, with more serious penalties for repeat offenders, or anyone with an existing record.
Although medicinal usage is allowed in New York, the laws surrounding at are very restrictive and there are only around 20 active dispensaries in the state with only 5 in New York City.
Governor Cuomo’s 2018 budget calls for a study of the pros and cons of legalizing pot in New York while the Health Department announces it’s opinion is that the state should allow adults to legally consume marijuana and raise the tax percentage.
While there is still some distance to go these announcements represent a positive shift in the mentality leading to legalization in New York.