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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

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Comments [4]

Brandt Hardin

I feel this would be a step in the right direction toward making Pot work to help our damaged economies. Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

May. 21 2012 05:01 PM
Marc emery from here

Out grow the government!!

May. 21 2012 09:12 AM
pfroehlich2004 from New York

Oh, for the love of God. 14 states have already decriminalized marijuana, and most of them did so over three decades ago. Guess what? They're all still functioning at least as well as New Jersey.

If decriminalizing pot were remotely as dangerous as hypocrites like Christie claim, we would have seen the consequences by now. The governor's opposition to decriminalization has nothing to do with protecting public health and safety. It is simply pandering to a small group of bigots who believe that "conservative" means empowering the government to imprison people who prefer a safer alternative to alcohol.

May. 21 2012 06:15 AM
Jillian Galloway from local

We've known since alcohol was illegal that massive, unrelenting demand and zero legal supply is a recipe for disaster. Since our stores aren't allowed to meet the unrelenting demand for marijuana, illegal suppliers enter the market looking to get rich quick from satisfying this demand. These illegal suppliers make more than $10 Billion a year selling marijuana in the U.S. and murder, mutilate and dismember in order to protect their profits and market shares.

Unfortunately, their violence isn't restricted to just other illegal suppliers - they also brutally murder police officers, journalists, lawyers, parents and children of all ages. In the past 6 years more than 50,000 people have been murdered as a consequence of us keeping marijuana illegal.

This violence will never end until our stores are allowed to sell legally-grown marijuana to adults at prices low enough to prevent illegal competition. Drug Dealers Don't Card - Supermarkets Do!

We can't end this bloodshed if we don't talk to our legislators.

May. 21 2012 01:59 AM

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