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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.

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