The protests in New Jersey and nationwide against police brutality and the recent killings of African Americans have finally prodded state legislators to move toward ending marijuana enforcement that disproportionately falls on minorities.
A state Senate bill introduced last month would decriminalize possession of up to a pound of marijuana, sometimes called cannabis for the scientific name of the narcotic plant. Instead of arrest, a first offender would receive a written warning, and subsequent offenses would bring a $25 fine.
Currently, possessing that much of the drug is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Soon afterward, the Assembly passed its own more moderate bill that’s more inline with the 25 other states — including New York and Delaware — that have reduced penalties for marijuana possession.