NJ Lawmakers to Consider Marijuana Decriminalization Bill
Monday, May 21, 2012
New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, making the offense similar to a parking violation.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee will weigh the measure Monday and determine whether reduce penalties to fine for those caught with a half-ounce of marijuana or less. The current penalty for possession of marijuana is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine.
“Our marijuana drug laws have become unworkable,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat from Mercer County and prime sponsor of the bill. "They are too expensive to enforce and I think they're too punitive a measure."
Gusciora said it currently costs thousands of dollars to prosecute just one marijuana case in the state.
A spokesman for Govenor Chris Christie told Philly.com that he had not seen the bill, but did not think the Republican governor would sign it.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said that he had not seen the bill but that he did not think Christie, a former federal prosecutor, would sign it.
“It’s a slippery slope,” Michael Drewniak told the Inquirer. “We do have a medical marijuana program that is headed toward full implementation.”
The Assembly proposal is co-sponsored by 15 Democrats and three Republicans. A similar bill is working its way through the state Senate.
Fourteen states, including New York and Connecticut, have decriminalized marijuana possession.
Soterios Johnson contributed reporting