Garden State NORML and cannabis consumers across New Jersey are calling on legislators to find an immediate solution to stop arresting nearly 100 people every day for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
“Taxpayers are spending millions to put handcuffs on marijuana consumers, the same people who are expected to come out to the polls and vote for a constitutional amendment,” said Garden State NORML Executive Director Charlana McKeithen. “With another delay for full legalization, we hope elected officials will explore every option to stop these needless arrests.”
In addition to supporting full legalization, Garden State NORML supports decriminalizing marijuana – utilizing civil fines – for all ages. The decrim process requires no arrest, no handcuffs, no custody, no court, no jail, no supervision, no treatment, and no permanent record. Fines are usually between $25-$100. Twenty-one states and over one hundred cities have enacted such provisions.
For regional context, Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana in 2014, and 20 additional cities in Pennsylvania followed suit. New York took the first step towards decriminalization at the state level in 1977, and further expanded on their decriminalization policies this year.
“Unfortunately, lawmakers in Trenton have elected to kick the can further down the road and allow tens of thousands more New Jersey residents to be saddled with criminal records for marijuana offenses due to their lack of action,” said Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML and a New Jersey native, “While we are confident the voters in New Jersey will send them an unambiguous message in 2020 in favor of legalization, state legislators must decriminalize marijuana possession in the interim to prevent even more lives from being ruined due to draconic prohibition policies.”