ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana use in New York state.

The legislation reduces the penalty for unlawful possession of marijuana to a violation punishable by a fine for possession of any amount of marijuana under two ounces. The penalty is $50 for possessing less than an ounce of pot or a maximum of $200 for one to two ounces.

It also creates a process for people who have been convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana to have their records expunged.

"Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana for far too long, and today we are ending this injustice once and for all," Cuomo said in a statement. "By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process."

State lawmakers considered legalizing marijuana for recreational use this year, but that legislation stalled.

The law takes effect 30 days from Monday.

Not everyone in New York State is stoked about the decriminalization of marijuana.


"I voted 'no' on legislation to further decriminalize marijuana use because, first and foremost, the specifics of the bill failed to adequately address concerns related to public safety and public health. Like a number of other measures, the bill was rushed through at the end of the Legislative Session, only after the larger deal to legalize marijuana fell apart. The process did not allow law enforcement, district attorneys or the judicial system with an opportunity to provide their professional opinions regarding this serious issue," stated New York State Assembly  Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua). Rather than allow the issue to be fully vetted, once again, the Legislature and Governor treated public input, transparency and the legislative process as inconveniences."