NY lawmakers vote to decriminalize marijuana after legalization effort fails

NY lawmakers vote to decriminalize marijuana after legalization effort fails

Lawmakers in New York state voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession after a previous effort to fully legalize the drug failed.

A bill decriminalizing the possession of up to two ounces of the drug passed the state Senate Thursday and the General Assembly early Friday morning, according to The New York Times and Time magazine.

ADVERTISEMENT

The measure is backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), and is expected to be signed into law shortly.

“This is not the final step, but it will lay the groundwork for full decriminalization and legalization,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, according to Time.

Cuomo said Friday at a press conference that the passage of decriminalization was a good first step after supporters in the legislature realized earlier this month that they did not have the votes required to pass full legalization.

"It was clear that they didn't have the votes for legalization, then we went to decriminalization," Cuomo said at the press conference.

“It does a lot, makes a major change,” Cuomo added to WAMC in an interview. “It makes the situation much better, especially for the black and brown community that has paid such a high price.”

Republicans, currently the minority in both chambers, overwhelmingly voted against the bill, with state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R) telling the Times that the new measure would "hurt people."