If you have been following our blog, you know that having a drug charge on your criminal record can create obstacles in seeking out future employment, educational opportunities or housing. This is why it is so important to contact a knowledgeable attorney should you be accused of committing a drug crime. Defense attorneys are able to provide valuable advice regarding mounting a successful challenge to charges filed because they remain educated on legal precedents that may impact court proceedings.

While the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will not appear on the November 2016 New York ballot, changes in the penalties associated with marijuana possession signal that the state is developing a stance that is more tolerant in its view of using and possessing this substance. According to Mayor de Blasio, the shift in penalties for marijuana possession in New York City stemmed from a desire to create a drug policy that fairly delivers justice as members of racial minorities have disproportionately received violations.

Here are four changes to New York law that could impact drug sentencing for those found with marijuana on their person:

1. In New York City, police officers will no longer arrest individuals possessing 25 grams of marijuana or less. While those caught smoking in public can still be arrested, the penalty for possessing the drug is a fine of $100 and a court summons.

2. Those who are found possessing marijuana within three years of a first offense could be fined up to $250 dollars.

3. Stop-and-frisk policies have been halted, resulting in a drop in drug violations.

4. Medical marijuana use for certain conditions is legal throughout the state of New York.

While some people may feel that having a conviction for misdemeanor possession will have little influence on their lives, studies of the impact of such a record have been well documented. It is for this reason that you should fight drug charges if they are filed against you. Contacting a knowledgeable attorney will enhance your options if you are required to defend yourself in court.