Some New Jersey lawmakers are introducing legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Senator Bob Singer is one of the bill’s sponsors. He says decriminalization would keep people from being sent to jail, but he’s opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana use.
“Somebody said it would be good for tourism. Shame on us if that’s how we want to bring tourism in. Shame on us if that’s how we want to make money.”
Senator Ron Rice says decriminalization is a social justice issue, with blacks prosecuted and imprisoned for marijuana law violations at rate far greater than whites.
He’s also opposed to marijuana legalization, claiming that could have a negative impact on inner-city neighborhoods.
“What are we allowing money people to come and tell us to use as a tool to sell a product that may hurt our community without us doing in-depth research and thinking through what’s happening in our communities today?”
Amol Sinha, the executive director of the Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, says decriminalization might perpetuate some harms.
“We have a situation where minorities are disproportionately impacted by marijuana enforcement. We’re still going to have an enforcement scheme after decriminalization and we’re pretty certain that minorities are going to bear the brunt of that.”
Scott Rudder is president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. He says decriminalization could exacerbate problems.
“Where you going to get it from?. You’re going to get it from an illegal drug dealer. You’re going to get it from somebody that has questionable product, that has other things such as pills, heroin, LSD.”
Governor Phil Murphy supports legalization. A bill to do that is expected to be considered by lawmakers in the spring.