Q: Why haven't Murphy and Sweeney decriminalized marijuana? (John B.)
The main reason the powers-that-be (including Sweeney) have come out against decriminalizing marijuana is that it would strengthen the black market. In a May editorial board meeting, Sweeney told the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey that he was "still trying to get (his) mind around it."
"It (decriminalization) enhances the dealer on the corner because if (you're) selling weed, all you’re getting is a $50 traffic ticket for it," Sweeney said. "I’m open to conversation, but I’m not there right now."
The problem with that line of thinking is this: Many black market pot dealers think they'll be just fine under full marijuana legalization, as well. When I visited a black market marijuana pop-up, one dealer told me that he was emboldened by the fact that he could carry marijuana on him — illegally bought and sold — relatively free of punishment.
And remember: Decriminalization, as a separate entity, would likely only be a placeholder until weed is fully legalized, be it through a bill or ballot measure.