New York legalizes recreational marijuana, lawyer calls it “racial justice issue”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill on Wednesday to legalize the adult use of marijuana, making it the 15th U.S. state to allow recreational use of the drug, while Virginia moved to legalize possession of small amounts by July.

Cuomo said the bill, which was approved by the state Assembly late on Tuesday night, would also wipe the slate clean for many people previously charged with marijuana crimes.

“The bill creates automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions that would now be legal,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter, announcing that he had just signed the legislation. “This is a historic day.”

Bronx Defenders attorney Eli Northrup called this the “best bill in terms of marijuana justice.”

“It’s a racial justice issue,” he said.

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