After years and years of attempts asking NY State to do so, the State has voted to reduce the harsh sentences from the Rockefeller drug laws. The laws won't be totally repealed, but the sentences for drug crimes will drop from 15 years-life to 8-20 years. A lot of the criticism towards NY's drug laws stems from the fact that many of the people sentenced were non-violent offenders, with their crimes being a first-offense (many other states have less severe sentences), and prisons aren't really facilities where drug offenders can be rehabilitated.

Some lawmakers didn't think the reforms went far enough (NY State Senator Thomas Duane said "Rockefeller drug reform - ha! - I don't think so") but the NY Times reports that Russell Simmons, who campaigned for the repeal of the Rockefeller drug laws, is happy with the State's decision and credits the hip-hop community for helping "raise awareness" of the issue.

Learn more about the Rockefeller drugs laws from Drop the Rock and the Human Rights Watch. And Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau happens to support the legalization of using pot for medical purposes.