UTICA–Over 800 local low-level marijuana possession charges will be expunged from past convictions.
In July, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that includes expunging two marijuana charges from previous convictions. It went into effect late-August.
- Unlawful possession of marijuana — a violation
- Criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree — a misdemeanor
The New York State Office of Court Administration says the minimal counts of local dockets to be expunged are as follows:
Oneida County: 641
Herkimer County: 152
Otsego County: 73
(NYS OCA says these counts exclude dockets from municipal courts)
NYS OCA says the court must expunge these charges over the next year, also indicating they were advised of over 200,000 stand-alone cases with these marijuana charges statewide.
NYS OCA spokesperson Lucian Chalfen says current staff will be able to handle the caseload, and there “is no fiscal impact.”
While advocates champion the law, especially for low-income populations, Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara believes it presents a setback.
“The thing with legalizing marijuana–or ‘decriminalizing it’ is probably a better term on what they’re (state officials) doing right now–is we lose our opportunity to try to educate people.”Scott McNamara, Oneida County District Attorney
McNamara says he created a marijuana diversion program for individuals charged, arrested or issued a ticket for marijuana offenses to learn of “the dangers–health wise dangers–of smoking marijuana, and also the dangers of smoking marijuana and operating a motor vehicle.”