The New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association now officially supports legalizing the possession of marijuana, which is quite an unlikely source of support, since they are the principle group who prosecutes marijuana users in the state.
“Each week, New Jersey police officers arrest hundreds of citizens for the disorderly persons offense of possession of under 50 grams of marijuana,” said Jon-Henry Barr, president of the board of trustees of the Municipal Prosecutors Association. “Those arrested include professionals and many people who would never think of committing any type of serious, victim-related crime.”
In an interview with Kathleen Hopkins from the Asbury Park Press, Barr enumerated the reasons why a strong majority (seven out of ten) of the association wants to support the legalization of marijuana:
• Requests by prosecutors to analyze samples of marijuana are overwhelming the state’s drug-testing laboratories, sometimes leading to dismissals of cases when defendants invoke their rights to speedy trials;
• Studies show that marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine;
• Marijuana is easier for high school students to obtain than alcohol because the sale of alcohol is strictly regulated;
• Very few of the thousands of DWI cases prosecuted annually are for driving under the influence of marijuana;
• Statistics show that African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white people are, but there is no evidence to show there is disproportionately more marijuana use in minority communities;
• The state loses money by not collecting sales tax on marijuana, while drug dealers profit.
This much-needed support from the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association comes at a pivotal time in the state’s struggle to define its stance on marijuana. Two bills have recently been introduced; one bill permits citizens to carry an ounce or less of marijuana, while the other sets up a tax-and-regulate system.