Good news! On Monday, the Assembly Community and Development Affairs Committee advanced a decriminalization bill in a 4-0 vote, with two abstentions. You can check out a summary of the substituted bill that advanced here.
While the bill is a step in the right direction, it has some critical shortcomings that need to be fixed. It does not decriminalize or legalize possession of marijuana-related paraphernalia, being under the influence of cannabis, or failing to hand over cannabis to law enforcement. Individuals could still be arrested and incarcerated for any of those offenses! The bill is scheduled for a critical floor vote tomorrow, Thursday, June 18.
There’s no time to waste: Ask your assembly members to work to amend, and then advance, the bill NOW.
Just last week in the state Senate, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, along with cosponsor Sen. Ronald Rice, filed S.2535 — a sweeping proposal that would decriminalize up to one pound of marijuana. S.2535 includes provisions to eliminate law enforcement’s ability to detain or arrest someone based on the smell or odor of marijuana and prevents discrimination for past convictions in housing and public accommodations. You can read full summary of the Senate bill here. Give your state senator a call to urge them to support S.2535 and to urge leadership to bring it to a vote.
It’s our hope that the Assembly bill will be amended to include necessary provisions from S.2535 before a full vote. Although the Capitol remains closed to the public, you can still make your voice heard by contacting your legislators and urging them amend A.1897.
MPP strongly believes marijuana should be legal, not just decriminalized, for all adults. But decriminalization is a vital interim step: It would prevent thousands of traumatic arrests between now and when the November legalization ballot measure would take effect.
After you raise your voice, please spread the word to other New Jerseyans.