On Thursday, members of the New Jersey state Assembly approved a substitute version of A1897 by a 63-10 vote, with five abstentions. As currently written, the measure decriminalizes the possession and distribution of up to two ounces of marijuana by adults — making these activities punishable by a $50 fine. Those found to be in violation of the law will no longer be arrested or saddled with a criminal record.
Under current law, marijuana possession offenders may receive up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Annually, police make over 30,000 marijuana-related arrests in New Jersey. That total is among the highest of any state in the nation.
“I thank legislative leaders for taking action on this important issue,” said Charlana McKeithen, Garden State NORML Executive Director. “No New Jerseyan should have to live in fear of an arrest record and the collateral consequences that are associated with it. New Jersey has a unique opportunity to become a leader in marijauna policy reform in the US. As we commemorate Juneteenth this week, Garden State NORML looks forward to working to move the envelope forward by advocating for decriminalizing low level marijuana arrests immediately, while also investing in the communities most harmed by cannabis criminalization.”
The legislation now moves to the state Senate for further consideration.