The recreational marijuana legalization movement is charging ahead in New Jersey at such an intense speed that marijuana legalization opponents are willing to make a lot of compromises just to slow it down. However, it may do no good at meeting the expectations of Governor Murphy or the people of New Jersey. Opponents offered a new bill last week in hopes of staving off full on legalization.
The bill would allow a person caught with less than 10 grams of cannabis to face a fine of $100 the first time, $200 for the second offense and and $500 for future violations. Offenders now are subject to six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
Doing away with the threat of jail time would achieve the social justice concerns often mentioned by legalization proponents, like Gov. Phil Murphy, said state Sen. Ronald Rice D-Essex, one of the prime sponsors of the legislation.
The bill also expedites the expungement process for past marijuana arrests, allows municipalities to keep all but $50 from every fine, and makes treatment services available if offenders are determined to be marijuana-dependent.
“This whole legalization stuff needs to slow down. I think folk need to listen to Sen. (Robert) Singer and myself, and people in the community,” Rice said during a press conference at the Statehouse in Trenton, accompanied by clergy and members of NJ RAMP, Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy.
“Marijuana legalization is not the step forward for social justice that has been promised,” said Bishop Jethro James, president of the Newark/North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen. “”In fact, it’s just the opposite, as the marijuana industry routinely targets vulnerable communities as profit centers. Just take a look at Denver, where the number of pot shops littering the city is greater than the number of McDonalds and Starbucks combined.”
Despite these opponents’ best efforts though, Governor Murphy would be failing his voters if he did not follow through on one of his biggest campaign promises. Do you think that Murphy will even consider these compromises?