Jon-Henry “J.H.” Barr, Esq. is a prosecutor in New Jersey, and has been since 2001. He has personally seen how the justice system treats marijuana users. I think that there are many prosecutors out there that support marijuana reform privately, but never express it publicly. Prosecutors serve a vital governmental function by helping put away bad guys, but that should in no way include marijuana users. However, sadly, it happens in America (including New Jersey) all the time.
Mr. Barr is refusing to sit on the sidelines and see the government ruin good people’s lives while at the same time wasting limited government resources. That’s why he is fighting to legalize marijuana in New Jersey. Per NJ Spotlight:
Barr has recently been quoted in news releases and advocacy materials related to thecampaign, where he serves as a steering committee member. (He serves as an individual, not as a representative of the prosecutors association, although the association endorsed a resolution in 2014 calling for marijuana legalization, subject to “reasonable regulations.”)
Led by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the diverse group joined forces last year to advocate for a system in which pot is legally available for adults to purchase, and regulated and taxed by the state — similar to alcohol sales. NJUMR claims current law “wastes more than $127 million each year on a failed policy” that unfairly punishes poor communities of color without improving public safety. The campaign’s membership makes it unique; the partnership includes physicians and law enforcement officials, in addition to civil rights and community advocates.
Barr said that for him, the bottom line is simple. As a lifelong Republican and fiscal conservative, “We are against wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars on government programs that do not work and are not necessary,” adding, “and that is the war on drugs.” He continued, “I am more committed to changing the law than ever, because the status quo is a disaster. I’ve even used the word ‘insane.’ I realize those are strong words. But those are accurate words.”
I have long said that it confuses me as to why conservatives and law enforcement seem to always lead the charge against marijuana reform. Conservatives are supposed to believe in small government, be against government waste and intrusion, and are supposed to believe in states’ rights. All of those are embodied by the marijuana reform movement. I’m not a cop, but if I was, I would be very frustrated in the fact that I’m supposed to arrest and lock up marijuana users, when I should be out fighting real crime. I tip my hat to Mr. Barr. I’m sure it’s not easy standing up for reform given his current occupation, but because of his current occupation I’d imagine his message will resonate with New Jersey residents much more than the average speaker.