NJ Marijuana Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Pass S2703 and A4497, Legalizing Adult-Use Recreational Marijuana

March 22, 2019

Leading advocates for marijuana reform in New Jersey continue to sound the call for the passage of the latest bill to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana in the state.  

New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) – a coalition of advocates from the civil rights, law enforcement, and medical communities – has been leading the charge for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the Garden State, urging racial and social justice to be at the center of the legislation. 

NJUMR’s steering committee voted on Tuesday to support identical bills S2703 and A4497, which passed out of both the Senate Judiciary and Assembly Appropriations Committees on Monday.

“Passing S2703 and A4497 will begin to reverse the tragic harms of the failed drug war, and in a manner that’s more forward-looking than any state we’ve seen,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “Through this legislation, the Garden State can begin a redemptive path toward racial and social justice and away from the destructive forces of prohibition.”

“Leading with racial and social justice will allow all New Jerseyans, especially people of color, to live without the fear of a marijuana arrest and all that comes with it,” said Sinha. “The bill’s expedited expungement process and non-discrimination provisions provide New Jerseyans with opportunities to clear their records and to resume living their lives without the stigma and burdens a conviction can bring.”

“We remain committed to ensuring communities that have been hardest hit by this unfair war on drugs see appropriate investment of tax dollars coming from marijuana sales,” added Sinha. “We believe New Jersey residents should be able to grow marijuana for their own use, and will continue to advocate for that opportunity.”

Additional statement from NJUMR steering committee members: 

“While we would not call it the perfect bill, S4703/A4497 is transformational and will change the trajectory of thousands of lives of those who were victims of this failed war on drugs,” said NAACP State Conference President, Richard Smith.

“We need to make marijuana legal in New Jersey now to stop tens of thousands of unfair arrests a year and to be able to adequately compete with other states that have had legal, regulated cannabis industries for years,” said Evan Nison, Board member of NJ NORML. “I support this bill as a good first step, and we’ll be back to push for home grow next year.”

“Properly executed, the powers given to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission will protect public health by ensuring that cannabis is cultivated, tested, labeled, and sold in retail establishments to adults under strict government supervision. There are deterrents to underage use that do not currently exist under prohibition,” said Dr. David Nathan, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. “The social justice provisions of this bill will facilitate expungement of cannabis offenses, promote minority participation in the industry, and bring some measure of equity to communities devastated by the drug war – which are mainly communities of color.”

“This marijuana bill is a moral document and a bold declaration that New Jersey's adult use program will work to right past injustices. Indeed, the passage of this bill will yield not just new jobs or a new industry but a new day for cannabis policy,” said Michael Bronstein, President, American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp. “We stand proudly in support of this bill." 

NJUMR’s steering committee comprises: American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, JH Barr of the NJ State Municipal Prosecutors Association, Bill Caruso of Archer & Greiner, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Latino Action Network, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and NJ NORML.

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