Hundreds of thousands of marijuana convictions to be overturned after pot legalization
It may be a year before recreational marijuana dispensaries open in New York City, but on Wednesday hundreds of thousands of lives changed because the state officially legalized pot.
No matter how long they were in jail or how much fine they paid, a marijuana conviction – even for a misdemeanor – could be devastating.
Those convictions are spots that have ruined lives, according to lawyers across the state who spoke to News 12.
People could be ineligible for student loans, a business driver’s license, or even housing.
This is why supporters of the bill say they are happy that it was enacted Thursday by Governor Andrew Cuomo, legalizing marijuana in New York State. In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana for adults, hundreds of thousands of convictions will also be overturned.
This means it will be deleted from someone’s file.
News 12 has solicited comment from the Westchester County Legal Aid Society, a group that has represented some of these New Yorkers convicted of low levels of marijuana.
“Think of a weight that is lifted off your back where you are still being watched, always having to go so much more than anyone. Do more than anyone. When it is taken off you, there is a tremendous sense of relief,” says Clare. Degan, Executive Director of the Westchester County Legal Aid Society.
The state will immediately begin the process of removing these charges from New Yorkers’ records.
In 2019, the state overturned other marijuana convictions – nearly 200,000 of them.
The plan is to use the same system to weed out a number that is expected to be higher than the 2019 digits.