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So you’re a pothead. What does marijuana decriminalization mean for you?

June 24, 2019 Noah Goldberg
AP Photo/Richard Vogel

Update (4:20 p.m.): Marijuana decriminalization went into effect Aug. 28. 

They didn’t legalize marijuana in New York State, but they did decriminalize it. You hit the weed pen one too many times to understand exactly what decriminalization is. Don’t worry about it. Sit back, relax and let us (briefly) tell you what changed and what you still can’t do.

Marijuana legalization was on the table during the New York State legislature’s session, but a workshopped bill sponsored by State Sen. Liz Krueger never made it to the senate floor for a vote.

That 114-page bill would have allowed for the commercial sale of marijuana, which would have been handled by a new state office called the Office of Cannabis Management.

That didn’t happen. Instead, the state further decriminalized marijuana in a short, four-page bill passed in Albany on Wednesday. Marijuana is still illegal. You cannot walk outside and smoke a spliff in front of a cop. Or, you can, but it’s a bad idea. And it’s a violation.

In your own home, having less than 25 grams of marijuana has been decriminalized in New York since 1977 — so keep it in your home.

Now you’ll pay less if you get caught carrying it out and about. Unlawful possession of less than an ounce of marijuana — which is a violation — will now be punishable by a $50 fine instead of a $100 fine.

The bill also removed part of the law that raised that fine if the person had been convicted of a similar weed offense in the last three years.

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Getting caught with more than an ounce of marijuana is now only a violation instead of a criminal misdemeanor, and that’ll cost you $200.

Anything more than two ounces of marijuana and you will still be hit with criminal charges.

Another key part of the decriminalization bill was the expungement of records for people who were arrested of low-level marijuana possession.

But remember, you still can’t smoke it or carry it in public.

Correction (2 p.m) — A previous version of this article included the wrong amount of marijuana in the home that was decriminalized in 1977. The article has been updated with the correct number. The Eagle regrets this error. 

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