Marijuana reform advocates express hope ahead of Monday’s legalization hearing

November 26, 2018

Trenton – As the Senate Budget and Appropriations and the Assembly Appropriations Committee hold a joint hearing to consider legislation to legalize adult use of recreational marijuana today, New Jersey’s leading marijuana legalization advocacy coalition, New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR), made up of leaders and organizations in the New Jersey law enforcement, civil rights, and medical communities, issued the following statement:

“We look forward to today’s hearing considering amendments to the current draft bills, S-2703 and A-4497. We believe New Jersey is on the brink of making history to right some of the wrongs of aggressive enforcement under the drug war by legalizing recreational marijuana, and they must do it in a way that advances racial justice. 

“The current bills make progress to advance racial justice through legalization by establishing an expungement process to erase marijuana records and creating opportunities for people with prior convictions to participate in the new cannabis industry. The bills also create spaces for people who can’t consume at home, allow delivery for people with limited mobility, and work toward an equity program to promote an inclusive industry in New Jersey.

“However, the bill is still missing the following critical racial and social justice measures:

  • The current bills offer some money to defray the cost of expungements, but do not contain any plans for reinvestment in communities harmed by the drug war, which would go toward education, re-entry services, and job training. 
  • The bills have no meaningful equity program creating opportunities specifically for communities that have borne the most harm from the drug war — disproportionately communities of color — to work in the marijuana industry. 
  • The bills have no provisions to allow people to grow small amounts of marijuana in their homes for personal use.

“Our coalition members will join others from across New Jersey to raise these issues again during today’s hearing. If the legislature does not address these issues in the final bill, they will have to revisit them again and create solutions in the future. Given the amount of time it has taken for legalization to finally become a reality in New Jersey, we think the law should get it right the first time.”

Testimony from our coalition members will be updated here throughout the day.

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