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Breaking: Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession Moves Forward In New Jersey

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 21, 2012

    [Update: The full Assembly is now scheduled to vote on A. 1465 this THURSDAY, MAY 24. For the first time in many years, there is now political momentum in New Jersey to mitigate marijuana possession penalties. If you reside in New Jersey, your member of the Assembly needs to hear from you NOW. Contact your state lawmakers via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.]

    Members of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee voted unanimously today in favor of Assembly Bill 1465, bi-partisan legislation which reduces criminal penalties for those who possess personal use quantities of marijuana.

    Witnesses who testified at the hearing were almost uniformly in favor of the legislation, which is similar to the laws of 14 other states. You can read NORML’s written testimony to the Committee here.

    Assembly Bill 1465 removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to 15 grams (approximately one-half ounce) of marijuana, replacing them with civil penalties punishable by no more than a $150 fine and no criminal record. Under present law, the possession of minor amounts of marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by up to six-months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

    Last year, Connecticut NORML spearheaded a successful legislative effort in that state to pass a nearly identical marijuana decriminalization bill. Passage of that measure has since led to a dramatic decline in the total number of marijuana arrests.

    In 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available), 22,439 New Jersey citizens were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Passage of A. 1465 measure would spare many of these citizens from criminal arrest, prosecution, and incarceration, as well as the emotional and financial hardships that follow — including the loss of certain jobs, students loans, federal and state subsidies, and child custody rights. Further, this change would provide immediate legal protections for some New Jersey patients, who presently benefit from the therapeutic use of cannabis, but remain at risk because the state’s two-and-a-half year-old medical marijuana law remains inactive.

    A. 1465 is now pending before the full Assembly. Separate Senate legislation to decriminalize cannabis possession has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. For decriminalization to become reality in New Jersey, the measure must pass both the Assembly and the Senate. The measure would then await action from Gov. Chris Christie.

    If you reside in the Garden State, you are urged to please contact your member of the state Assembly and urge them to vote ‘yes’ on A. 1465 by visiting NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.

    Additional information is available from NORML New Jersey here or via CMM-NJ here.

    37 Responses to “Breaking: Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession Moves Forward In New Jersey”

    1. Owen says:

      Wow!!! Boy oh boy!!!! This is like seeing Raquel Welch staring out at you from her bedroom window, naked and calling you to come closer with her index finger. “Come here, baby. And then BAAAAAAM you realize that it was was Governor Christie in drag all along and your dick goes limp…………….

    2. Ryan says:

      From Alabama w/ Love <3

      Take action but always, kill'em with KindNess!!!!!!

      We lost our legislative battle this year. Just more time to prepare for next year!!

    3. Shawn Christopher says:

      this is great, but if anyone has even the slightest fantasy that Chris Christie will sign this bill, they’ve got another thing coming, this, hard core, right winger former attorney general And State trooper crony will never, NEVER sign a bill like this. This is the same man that put the former head of the state troopers in charge of NJ’s Medical Marijuana Program. What qualifications and experience does law enforcement bring to a job that is fundamentally Medical based? NONE. People, make no mistake. this guy thinks pot smokers should rot in jail….even sick ones

    4. Darrell says:

      I know that similar legislation is still in committee in N.C. As far as I know it hasn’t been brought to the floor for a vote. I’m hoping it will be soon. Let’s get it passed. Looking forward to the day it does.

    5. Dave Evans says:

      Christie could sign it. He is one of the few Republicans with a brain in his head, a personality, and he actually is pretty good leadership material. If he tells other republicans to support it, most probably will.

      But let’s just pass it with a veto-proof margin, just in case.

    6. Chris says:

      The great thing about this is that we are now standing up & being heard about our views on marijuana.
      Check out Penn jillette of Penn & teller go off on the Obama admin about drugs
      Check out the california man running for office that says if he is elected he will smoke a joint On Capitol hill, he does not care if he is arrested, he cares about personal freedom.
      WE ARE BEING HEARD, WE WILL CONTINUE THIS FIGHT, WE WILL WIN.

    7. txpeloton says:

      This is great. Legislation like this shows that we have reached a tipping point.
      For more information, google Talking Points for the Peloton.

    8. Herb Herbman says:

      Owen..Raquel Welch how old are you bro 70? Naw im just kidding she was hot… in the 80s lolol

    9. Maxim says:

      Unfortunately, I have to agree with Shawn Christopher. While decrim in NJ would be amazing and a logical step in the right direction, I can’t see Chris Christie signing that bill–and if he did– he would find a way to delay or detract from it like he did with the MMJ supposedly in place.

      [Paul Armentano replies: It is highly premature to speculate what Gov. Christie may or may do RE: A. 1465. Before it ever gets to Gov. Christie’s desk, it must first pass the full Assembly and the full Senate. The vote before the full Assembly is scheduled for Thursday, May 24. If you reside in New Jersey, your member of the Assembly needs to hear from you NOW. Contact your state lawmakers via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=60527546.

    10. douglas says:

      Chris Will never sign this bill

      [Paul Armentano replies: It is highly premature to speculate what Gov. Christie may or may do RE: A. 1465. Before it ever gets to Gov. Christie’s desk, it must first pass the full Assembly and the full Senate. The vote before the full Assembly is scheduled for Thursday, May 24. If you reside in New Jersey, your member of the Assembly needs to hear from you NOW. Contact your state lawmakers via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=60527546.

    11. Gene says:

      Now is the time to stand up and be heard!!! Don’t complain let the people in office know that if they don’t listen to what the people want WE WILL VOTE THEM OUT. Remind them it’s WE THE PEOPLE!!! Call or write to them now. It’s time we started pushing back. STAND UP TO THE BULLIES!!!

    12. oskar D says:

      its because hes secretly racist and needs to take attention from corey booker! now is not the time to let off the heat!

    13. Roger says:

      I shudder to think that the GOP wanted Christie to represent their party as the candidate to be the next POTUS! If you think Obama is bad when it comes to showing any compassion for cannabis users, he is an angel compared to Christie!

      Listen up NJ folks, get rid of Christie!!! The guy is an ignorant dinosaur! On top of that he is really fat and out of shape. What possible right does this guy have to tell us what is and is not a healthy activity?

    14. Galileo Galilei says:

      As I understand it, the recent change in the possession laws here in Maryland was driven by the realization that prosecutors were loath to waste resources pursuing more putative laws against pot smokers. Perhaps Christie could be persuaded to take this point of view???

      Once again, cultural conservatism raises its ugly head. The Republicans cultivate this as a voting block, and appear willing to spend any amount of money to defend their turf.

      Well, maybe not ANY amount of money–the people don’t like having their tax money wasted. There does appear to be a limit.

    15. Renee Thomson says:

      This is fantastik news! And, Christie has already spoken that this is what he wants. I’ve been to a few of the Gov’s town hall meetings and each time this question came up, he totally agreed to it!

    16. Shawn Christopher says:

      at dave evens. I”m willing to bet you 1000$ that Christie will veto this bill….this is just based on his public comments about marijuana. he hates it and thinks sick people should go to jail for it, he has said this publicly

    17. Shawn Christopher says:

      at renee Thompson. I”ve also watched Chris Christie at town hall meeting. Lie top peoples faces and tell them he was implementing the medical Marijuana Program, and tell a woman with stage 4 cancer the same thing and then later that night on the news, watch the same man, in front of a state trooper charity dinner say “He has no intention of implementing it” and that marijuana “Has no medical value” you people are living in LaLa land if you think this hard core right-winger is going to sigh this bill. I don’t care what you’ve seen or heard him say, he’s a liar,,,period, end of story

    18. Jman says:

      “In Jersey anythings legal, as long as you don’t get caught”
      From Tweeter and the Monkey Man by The Traveling Wilburys

    19. Roger says:

      @Renee Thomson, If what you say about Christie is correct, it contradicts everything that I’ve heard/read about him. I hope you are right about him!!!

    20. Pro-MJ Beer Drinker says:

      I wouldn’t be so certain that Christie wouldn’t sign this. This may give some cause for hope:

      http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2012/04/reconvene_criminal_sentencing.html

      Maybe just a little optimisim? By the way, I don’t smoke, but I’m for this. Beer and alcohol drinkers should unite behind this too since our recreational substance of choice was once prohibited! It’s a question of personal liberty.

      [Paul Armentano replies: It is highly premature to speculate what Gov. Christie may or may do RE: A. 1465. Before it ever gets to Gov. Christie’s desk, it must first pass the full Assembly and the full Senate. The vote before the full Assembly is scheduled for Thursday, May 24. If you reside in New Jersey, your member of the Assembly needs to hear from you NOW. Contact your state lawmakers via NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/alert/?alertid=60527546.

    21. Michelle says:

      Thank you for contacting the 8th Legislative District Office of Senator
      Dawn Marie Addiego, Assemblyman Scott Rudder and Assemblyman Christopher J. Brown.

      Your email is very important to us and will be replied to in the order
      in which it was received. Please note, due to the high volume of emails
      we received in our joint office, our response time may be delayed.

      If your issue or concern requires immediate assistance, please feel
      free to call or stop by our legislative office. We are located at Medford Center, 176 Route 70, Suite 13 in Medford or we can be reached by phone at
      609-654-1498.

      Thank you,

      Senator Dawn Marie Addiego

      Assemblyman Scott Rudder

      Assemblyman Christopher J. Brown

    22. freekkc says:

      their should be hundreds of videos uploaded everyday about legalizing marijuana on YouTube and Facebook and twitter should be flooded with it to and not the one hour long handful of videos either that recently have been uploaded but ten minute videos that will capture peoples attention their are videos on weed everyday but its just people smoking weed it should be about legalizing it and others should flood comments on every other video about legalizing it

    23. Love America says:

      This is being fast-tracked and is a sure thing.

      The college-age son of a wealthy prominent Republican politician was recently busted for pot, so I see the vote going close to 80-0 in favor.

      The most compelling testimony was this;

      “Harry Camisa of Yardville, a retired state corrections officer, also urged the committee to support the bill and spare teenagers the “devastating effects” of prison.

      “I always felt bad for the very young ones,” Camis said, “because by the time they asked for protective custody they had already been beaten with a lock in a sock, stabbed or sodomized.”

      http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/05/bill_to_decriminalize_marijuan_1.html

    24. JLK says:

      Cannabis advocates need to steer the debate toward the idea of liberty – as in “Republicans advocate more for liberty” or “Democrats care more about liberty” – instead of continuing to debate the topic of whether or not cannabis is harmful to the public.

      The words “I refuse to defend a plant that does not need defending – but I will defend the right to personal liberty” should be enough to counter any prohibitionist.

      I would love to see a rush to the moral high ground among our politicians, and an end to already settled arguments over the safety of cannabis.

    25. Pj o'hara says:

      I was actualy arrested for having 1 gram!!! Does anyone know if this gets passed before my trial if I will be able to get just the fine or is it when the arrest is made?

    26. Brandon says:

      Where is PA? I was arrested for 3.5 grams. After arraignment, when you’re arrested, (just for those unfamiliar with the criminal justice system), and they take you into a room, make you strip naked, hold up your genitals just to make sure there’s nothing attached to the underside of your scrutum, and then they make you turn around and spread your ass cheeks to make sure your not smuggling anything into a jail cell. For 3.5 grams of weed they make you do this. Is this a cruel and unusual punishment? What would George Washington think? How about Ben Franklin? What does the Chris Christie or any politician think of this? Make sure you tell them. I didn’t mention the delousing process either, where you shower with guards watching. THEN they let you make a phone call, and MY GOD youre just silently praying someone will bail you out.

    27. Brandon says:

      Get the rest of the politicians on board. get a vote count and make sure you know who votes for what Jerseyians

    28. Shawn Christopher says:

      here to anyone who had delusions that Christie would sign this bill. a big “i told you so” is definitely in order.

      http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/05/gov_christie_i_am_not_a_fan_in.html

    29. sfm says:

      Legalizing marijuana for any use (medical or personal)would be a good thing! Keep it simple, follow the laws that would govern it and its a win-win situation for everyone. What is so hard to understand about that?

    30. Thalia Ross says:

      this will be the only time i post this… every single one of you are wasting your time messaging on boards IF you are not also WRITING, EMAILING YOUR REPRESENTITIVES!!! SHOW UP TO MEETINGS OR STAGE A SMOKEOUT! has anyone paid attention to the occupy movement? whatever your opinion on the subject is… they have NATIONAL attention via t.v., internet, papers, bumper stickers, you name it.just sitting on here bs’ing with people you may never meet wont get anything done.but show up on city hall steps or the white house lawn and burn the failed mj prohibition laws wrapped tightly around some grade a! it doesnt matter how young or old get out there and show your (unwasted) support!!! who knows you may be the one who gets the dominoes falling!!!!!!!!!!

    31. Thalia Ross says:

      and “wasting” refers to posting to other supporters.. club meetings are fun but we need better numbers! get your support out there and change a few minds! if every one changed just one voting age mind… we’d have national veto proof majority!!!!!!!

    32. Thalia Ross says:

      oh and tommy chong for prez! :)

    33. Bob says:

      OK folks its time to make a stand.

      The only thing that can get things done is money and votes. Most of us have voting rights, some have money. If ya have some money to spare – contribute to Normal or a like organization and/or email this message to your elected officials and stand firm. Also send to like minded friends and family:

      To the President, Members of the US Congress, State and local elected officials:

      Criminal marijuana prohibition is a failure. Over 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses since 1965 with over 800,000 arrests in 2010 and each year the number increases. The problem is getting worse – not because of the benign plant, but because of the obsolete laws. The time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization, taxation, regulation, and education.

      I can no longer vote for elected officials that support the the current laws. I have decided not to vote for any politician that does not publicly support the removal of all penalties for the private possession and endorse responsible use of marijuana by adults, including cultivation for personal use, and casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts.

      Signed

      Voting Citizen
      & Member of the Movement

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