New York law softening pot penalties goes into effect

Gavel and marijuana. Concept about drug vs justice.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A New York state law softens penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana and creates a process for erasing certain past offenses.

The maximum penalty is now $50 for possessing less than an ounce of pot. The law took effect Wednesday.

It also turns an unlawful marijuana possession statute into a violation similar to a traffic ticket, instead of a criminal charge.

Records tied to low-level marijuana cases will be automatically sealed under the law.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement Wednesday touting the law as a “significant step forward.” He says the law is “long overdue.”

Advocates for marijuana legalization have argued the law is a positive step but falls short of addressing negative consequences that come with keeping the drug illegal.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.