Following in the steps of 10 other states that have made moves to legalize recreational use of marijuana, New York State now has a bill in the Senate Finance Committee that would legalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill would also establish an office that would oversee both recreational and medical marijuana use.
The bill, which is called the Recreation and Taxation Act (CRTA), would not only make marijuana use legal for adults over the age of 21, but would also expunge criminal records for those who have already been convicted on certain marijuana, a charges made null by the bill.
Marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, but that too could soon change, as New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has re-introduced legislation that would make marijuana legal nationally. Similarly, under this bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, people already convicted of possession or use would likewise see their criminal records expunged.
Legalizing marijuana would be good news for anyone who has a conviction that is barring them from certain employment, education or housing opportunities. The bill in New York State could be voted on as early as April.
While state and national attitudes around marijuana use and possession have been trending towards increasing legalization for a while, it is important to remember that until any new laws are in place, drug charges can bring significant penalties that can affect your life for years to come. And if you have been charged with a drug crime—whether for marijuana or another drug—it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can help protect your future against the harshest consequences of conviction.