A Manhattan, New York Supreme Court Justice has ordered the sealing of more than 300 cannabis possession cases following a successful class action petition brought in part by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Legal Action Center, Community Service Society, the Legal Aid Society, New York County Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service and pro bono counsel Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
The affected class members have convictions for low-level possession with no other misdemeanor or felony convictions anywhere in the state, who have no New York convictions for the last 10 years, and have no other pending charges or undisposed arrests.
The relief is permitted under a 2017 state law that allowed people to apply to have their criminal records sealed after at least 10 years have passed. To date, just 1,279 individuals have had their records sealed under the program; the Manhattan D.A.’s office estimates that at least 600,000 people are eligible for relief under the program.
In a statement, Manhattan DA Cy Vance, Jr. supported legalizing cannabis – which failed to get a vote in the legislature last session despite support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo – adding that there is “no reason a conviction for smoking or possessing marijuana should follow New Yorkers for life.”
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