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. 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!!!

    2. 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!

    3. 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?

    4. 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.

    5. 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!

    6. 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

    7. 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

    8. Jman says:

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

    9. 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!!!

    10. Pro-MJ Beer Drinker says:

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


      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.%5D

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