NJ Lawmakers Push for Marijuana Reform

As the national tide shifts ever more steadily towards the legalization of recreational marijuana, several New Jersey lawmakers are joining the fight towards decriminalization or legalization of the currently highly controversial drug. On November 16th, the Senate Judiciary Committee opted to hear testimony for and against the transition but did not implement a vote.

The likelihood of any new reform bills being passed in the near future is nearly impossible while Governor Chris Christie remains in office. He has vowed to veto legislation that would decriminalize or legalize the use or possession of marijuana, and during his ongoing presidential campaign has included promises to further restrict the use of marijuana in those states where it has already been legalized.

Among the chief proponents of comprehensive reform of NJ marijuana laws include Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, a democrat from Union county. According to Scutari, the nation’s marijuana laws have been a failure and he believes that the time is ripe to “legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.” His view is supported by the NJ ACLU, which points to rising arrest statistics for a drug that is legal in other parts of the country and has a particularly troubling track record with the racial disparities of marijuana convictions. While both black and white New Jersey residents use marijuana at the same rate, African Americans are arrested at nearly three times the rate of their Caucasian peers.

According to the committee New Jersey United for Marijuana reform, there would be a strong financial incentive to legalize marijuana statewide. William Caruso, a steering committee member, said that by advocating for legalization he is joining the fight for “hundreds of millions in savings and revenues.” Even cross party lines, Republican Jon-Henry Barr, president of the NJ Municipal Prosecutors’ Association has said that the current prohibition of marijuana is a prime example of wasteful government spending.

Many lawmakers agree that they could garner enough votes to pass legislation that would legalize marijuana, but not enough to override the veto which Christie has promised for any such bills which would arrive on his desk. Currently, New Jersey has certain restrictive stipulations for medical marijuana usage and proposed bills would expand upon that expensive and complicated process, opening it up for more users in a variety of circumstances.

One proposed bill, sponsored by Scutari, would legalize marijuana use for adults over the age of 21, and regulate it much in the same was as liquor sales. It would allow those adults to possess less than an ounce of the drug, and cultivate a small number of plants for personal use only.

With the ever changing laws surrounding the use of marijuana, it’s essential to have a properly trained and experienced defense lawyer on your side if you are going up against a marijuana case. We believe that our legal system should work for the people and will do everything in our power to give you the best results of your case. Contact us, Zapicchi & Liller, at 609-291-9500 to begin discussing your case with a free consultation today.