He’s the lawmaker who’s getting the credit — or, in some circles, the blame — for derailing the effort to pass a law legalizing recreational use of marijuana, pushing hard instead for decriminalization.
And Sen. Ron Rice is straight up about what he thinks of the two-year effort to add New Jersey to the list of states where weed is legal.
Indeed, the Newark Democrat uses a barnyard epithet to describe the rhetoric of those who pitch legalization as a social justice issue — a step that will address the imbalance in the incarceration of people of color on drug charges. Rather, he says, the proponents’ real game is just opening markets for the multi-million-dollar marijuana industry.
“They were giving the impression that if you legalized recreational marijuana no one would get arrested, and that’s not true,” said Rice, the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. “In Colorado, they legalized recreational marijuana and black and brown people are still being arrested three times greater than whites. That’s why I kept saying this is not about social justice. It’s about money.”