New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a historic bill on Monday to decriminalize the possession of cannabis. “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,” he said. In 30 days, New Yorkers will no longer need to worry about getting picked up on the street for small time pot possession.
That is a win. Even better; an estimated 600,000 state residents could now be eligible for the expungement of past cannabis-related convictions.
But it would be wildly inaccurate to call this the legislative outcome that Cuomo, legislators, and cannabis advocates were seeking — or even the New York public, which has shown itself to favor the end of marijuana prohibition.
Full-scale legalization was very much on the table this year. In fact, the governor promised during his re-election campaign that he would pass a plan to regulate the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana within the first 100 days of his second term.
For a moment there, it seemed that New Yorkers would see legalization in 2019 via the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, which was co-sponsored by 16 Democratic senators. But