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New Jersey General Assembly Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Measure

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new jersey marijuanaby Erik Altieri

The New Jersey General Assembly yesterday evening voted 44-30 in favor of Assembly Bill 1465, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of approximately one-half ounce of marijuana. Members of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee had previously approved the measure by a unanimous vote.

Presently, the possession of this amount of marijuana carries a penalty of up to a $1000 fine and six months in jail. A conviction also results in a criminal record that cannot be expunged for at least five years.

The measure now awaits action from the state Senate. If you reside in New Jersey, you can click here to contact your state Senator and urge them to support this important legislation.

If the bill obtains Senate approval it will still face a major hurdle, as Governor Chris Christie publicly stated he intends to veto the bill should it reach his desk. It is unfortunate that the Republican Governor and former federal prosecutor refuses to listen to the will of the voters, as a November 2011 Eagleton poll found that 58 percent of New Jersey residents believe that penalties regarding the use of marijuana should be decreased and 55 percent of them believe that marijuana possession penalties ought to be be eliminated entirely.

Just days earlier, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee enacted a similar marijuana decriminalization measure into law, amending pot possession penalties from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by one year in jail and a $500 maximum fine) to a non-arrestable civil offense – punishable by a $150 fine, no jail time, and no criminal record.

Eight states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, and Oregon – similarly define the private, non-medical possession of marijuana by adults as a civil, non-criminal offense.

Five additional states – Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio – treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Article from The NORML Blog and republished with permission.

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2 Comments

  1. Feels like PA will be one of the last states to decriminalize. They will probably resist till it’s made legal in the entire US.

  2. Prohibition’s underlying ideology is based wholly on fear, hate, envy, and greed – leading universally and invariably to abject failure, economic collapse, sickness and war.

    Ending prohibition would greatly reduce, even almost eliminate, the market in illegal narcotics, cause a reduction in the number of users and addicts, greatly curtail drug related illness and deaths, reduce societal harm from problematic abusers, and bring about an enormous reduction in the presence and influence of organized crime. The people who use drugs are our own children, our brothers, our sisters, our parents and our neighbors. By allowing all adults safe and controlled legal access to psychoactive substances, we will not only greatly reduce the dangers for both them and ourselves but also greatly minimize the possibility of ‘peer-initiation’ and sales to minors.

    Never have so many been harmed and impoverished by so few, so quickly. Prohibition is not just an extremely expensive accident. Like any harmful and completely ineffective policy, it was connived and implemented by immoral, malicious, fools. It cannot be ended soon enough.

    After many decades of drug-war-dystopia, don’t we all deserve a healthy, safe and prosperous future?

    Just say no to prohibition-insanity, prohibition-corruption, prohibition-violence and prohibition-terrorism!

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