This column reviews new legislation amending the Penal Law, Criminal Procedure Law and related statutes. The discussion that follows will highlight key provisions of the new laws and, as such, the reader should review the legislation for specific details. In some instances, where indicated, legislation enacted by both houses is awaiting the governor’s signature and, of course, the reader should check to determine whether the governor has signed or vetoed the bill. There might be a delay in the signing of some bills because a new governor has been sworn into office.

Substantive Legislation

Among the many bills enacted by the Legislature in the last session, there were three substantive pieces of legislation. The first was the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) that was enacted on March 31 (Ch. 92, eff. March 31, 2021). As previously reported in this column (The New Marihuana Law: Some Burning Issues, 5/28/21) New York has joined 14 other states in which the recreational use of small amounts of cannabis has been legalized. The new law enacts changes in criminal penalties for cannabis; provides automatic expungement and sealing of certain convictions; and will have an impact on searches of automobiles and impaired driving cases.