The legalization of recreational marijuana use in New Jersey is also expected to make good on a decades-long promise to address issues of racial and social justice. That’s where the focus should remain, according to the ACLU of New Jersey.
ACLU of New Jersey
Ami Kachalia, a campaign strategist with the ACLU of New Jersey, suggested the commission establish a social equity applicant license status. That would prioritize people who have lived in cities and towns most hurt by marijuana prohibition, have been arrested themselves for marijuana or are in the immediate family of someone who was to become owners in the cannabis industry.
She also said the commission should set aside grants for those people as well as minorities.
While lawmakers sent the governor legislation last week that would provide opportunities to have marijuana-related records expunged, the organizations—including ACLU of New Jersey and NAACP New Jersey State Conference—say it does not go far enough to right the wrongs of cannabis criminalization.
In a letter sent to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) that was shared exclusively with Marijuana Moment, the organizations laid out a suggested step-by-step structured pardon plan which would begin this month and escalate through next September.
Many of the pitfalls were anticipated.
A battle over psychedelic mushrooms was not.
On Monday, the Senate voted to amend a decriminalization bill to include psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compound in so-called magic mushrooms, or “shrooms,” snarling the time-sensitive negotiations over a separate legalization bill. That bill creates a framework for the constitutional amendment legalizing marijuana, which takes effect Jan. 1.
On a national level, 37 states have instituted some type of cannabis law reform policies: 11 states have legalized adult use cannabis, 15 states have decriminalized cannabis use, and 11 states have legalized medicinal cannabis. Despite more than half of the country legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis, law enforcement still made more than 6.1 million cannabis arrests over the past eight years. By comparison, police made more arrests for cannabis possession than for all violent crimes combined.
The coalition advocating for passage of a referendum to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, has tapped a top state political operative to manage their campaign.
Axel Owen, a former Democratic State Committee political director, will lead NJ CAN 2020, an alliance of organizations forging a joint campaign for a yes vote in the November general election.
New Jersey’s cannabis advocates have united to form NJ CAN 2020, a campaign coalition that is not only supporting the state’s adult-use legalization ballot initiative this November, but also plans to lobby for social equity policies in the state’s adult-use marketplace if the measure is ultimately approved by voters.
Black people are three-and-a-half times more likely to be arrested for possessing marijuana in New Jersey than whites, and the disparity has increased over the past 10 years, according to a new national report from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Cannabis advocates in New Jersey have formed a coalition that will campaign for a “yes” vote in the recreational marijuana legalization ballot later this year.
Garden State voters will decide on the issue of legalization when they go to the polls in November. The new group, NJ CAN 2020, has been set up to educate people on the manifold benefits that a legal adult-use cannabis industry would bring to the state.