Passed after several years of stalled efforts, the measure makes New York the 16th state in the nation to legalize adult use of the drug.
New York becomes the second-most populous state after California to legalize recreational marijuana.
Legalization backers hope the Empire State will add momentum and set an example with its efforts to redress the inequities of a system that has locked up people of color for marijuana offenses at disproportionate rates.
— ispotify (@ispotify1) April 4, 2021
The legislation provides protections for cannabis users in the workplace, housing, family court, schools, colleges and universities, and sets a target of providing half of marijuana licenses to individuals from underrepresented communities. And police could no longer use the odor of cannabis as a reason for searching someone’s car for contraband.
New York will start automatically expunging some past marijuana-related convictions, and people won’t be arrested or prosecuted for possession of pot up to 3 ounces. A 2019 law already expunged many past convictions and reduced the penalty for possessing small amounts.
In a unique provision, New Yorkers 21 and over can now smoke cannabis in public, including on sidewalks.