ahead of the legalization referendum of recreational marijuana.
Today, the New Jersey Assembly approved a marijuana decriminalization bill. The legislation would make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis a civil penalty punishable by a $50 fine and no jail time, cleared the chamber in a 63-10 vote, with five abstentions.
WHAT’S DOES IT MEAN?
The November Voters’ Referendum on broader marijuana legalization approaches will happen this November, allowing recreational use marijuana to be accessible for cultivation and distribution in New Jersey. The legislators have set the launching as a state-backed reform. The interim result of decriminalizes marijuana would remove the disparities in the criminal justice system. Under the proposal, possession of more than two ounces but less than one pound would be punishable by up to six months in prison or up to a $1,000 fine for a first offense. Moreover, the bill would create a “legal presumption” that possession of up to two ounces “is the authorized possession of medical cannabis or a medical cannabis product” under state law. The measure would provide for “virtual expungements” for convictions where the penalties were reduced under the bill. The expungement would be available “without need to petition a court for an expungement order granting such result.” Another provision calls for expanded education about opportunities for expungements. Thus, the proposal provides discrimination for people affected by cannabis laws.
Advocates consider the legislation a step in the right direction, but they’ve also pointed to several shortcomings that they hope will be amended. For example, possession of marijuana paraphernalia would remain illegal and people could still be arrested for being under the influence of cannabis.
Over in the Senate, lawmakers including the body’s president pro tem filed another bill to decriminalize possession of up to a pound of marijuana this month.
Senate knows the score and plans to pass the decriminalization bill since the stakes are high: If the legislature fails to enact decriminalization, more than 30,000 individuals in New Jersey will face traumatic arrests and prosecutions while voters wait for Election Day.”