Passage of Question 1 is necessary to halt the skyrocketing number of marijuana-related arrests that are occurring in the Garden State. Annually, more than 30,000 New Jerseyans are arrested for cannabis-specific violations – one of the highest totals of any state in the nation. These arrests and prosecutions cost taxpayers an estimated $143 million every year.
The overwhelming majority of these arrests are for low-level possession – not marijuana trafficking or sales – and a disproportionate percentage of those arrested are people of color. Those convicted of possessing even small amounts of marijuana are subject to the possibility of up to six months in jail. The record of their conviction also remains available to anyone performing a criminal background check. This denies tens of thousands of New Jerseyans – disproportionately from communities of color – opportunities for professional advancement.
Passage of Question 1 is also needed to bring about long-overdue regulation of the cannabis marketplace. Let’s be clear: Legalization does not create the marijuana market; this market already exists. But only with legalization can regulators impose common-sense controls on cultivation, processing, distribution, and sales of cannabis.