Marijuana officially decriminalized in New York

New York has officially decriminalized the use of marijuana.

The new law, which was green-lighted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) last month and took effect this week, downgrades the criminal penalty for the unlawful possession of pot from a misdemeanor to a fine.

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The law also removes criminal penalties for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and creates a process where certain individuals with past marijuana convictions can have their records cleared.

According to The New York Times, nearly 160,000 people with low-level weed convictions will have them expunged from their record.

"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 statement last month after signing the legislation.

"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,” he continued.

Cuomo had also worked to make the legalization of marijuana a top priority for state legislators this year. However, a bill that would have legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use in the state failed to advance in June, putting an end to hopes that the state would be able pass such a measure later this year.