Archive for the ‘new jersey’ category
Poll: Majority of New Jersey Voters Support Decriminalization for Possession of Small Amounts of MarijuanaJune 12th, 2013
Commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, the poll of 604 registered voters determined that 61 percent support the elimination of criminal penalties for minor possession (under two ounces).
The poll also found that 82 percent of voters either favor, or are neutral to, politicians who advocate for reducing criminal penalties for possession.
Rosanne Scotti, the New Jersey State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “More than 22,000 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010 at a cost of more than $125 million dollars. New Jerseyans understand that current penalties for marijuana are unfair and wasteful.”
Despite this wave of public support, NJ Gov. Chris Christie has stated that he will veto any decriminalization bill.
New Poll Finds That More Than 60 Percent of New Jersey Voters Favor Decriminalizing Marijuana and Making Possession a Civil Offense Punishable by a FineJune 11th, 2013
Solid Majority Also Now Supports Legalizing, Taxing and Regulating Marijuana for Personal Use
Overwhelming Public Support Adds Momentum to Pending Senate Bill that Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana for Personal Use
Trenton, NJ—An overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans support reducing the penalty for simple marijuana possession from a criminal offense to a small fine similar to a traffic ticket, according to a new poll of likely voters by Lake Research Partners. The poll was commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance.
The poll found that 61 percent of those asked support a proposal to make possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a civil violation. Currently, possession of this amount is a criminal offense that carries a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. A conviction also results in a criminal record that cannot be expunged for at least five years.
The poll also found that support for decriminalization is broad-based, traversing North, Central and South Jersey, and that it bridges gender, race and partisan divides. An overwhelming 82 percent of those polled said that they would either be more likely to vote for an elected official who supported reducing penalties for marijuana possession or that it would make no difference in their vote.
Not only is New Jersey poised to catch up to a growing contingent of other states that have already decriminalized or otherwise reduced penalties for marijuana possession, it appears to be in a position to lead the issue: 59 percent of those polled also favor legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana.
“New Jersey voters are ready for aggressive and immediate change of state marijuana laws, with strong majorities supporting decriminalizing up to two ounces of marijuana,” said Daniel Gotoff, a partner at Lake Research. “Support for this reform is remarkably broad, including majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans, as well as voters from every major region in the state.”
A bill is pending in the legislature that would decriminalize up to two ounces of marijuana and instead make possession a civil violation that carries a simple fine similar to a traffic ticket. S1977 is sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union), Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson).
Advocates say the polling bolsters calls for reform. “More than 22,000 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010 at a cost of more than $125 million dollars,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “New Jerseyans understand that current penalties for marijuana are unfair and wasteful. These laws should be changed now. ”
Advocates also point out appalling racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests. Although statistics show that people of all races consume marijuana at the same rates, people of color overwhelmingly suffer the criminal consequences. In New Jersey, African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at nearly three times the rate of whites.
Once an individual is convicted of even a minor possession offense, he or she is subject to a system of legal discrimination that makes it difficult or impossible to secure housing, employment, public assistance, federal student aid for higher education, and even a basic driver’s license.
Nearly 50 percent of Americans admit to having tried marijuana at some point in their lives.
Fifteen other states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Rhode Island) have already decriminalized small quantities of marijuana for personal use, in amounts ranging from one half ounce to three ounces.
On Thursday, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would make it easier for minors suffering from debilitating illnesses to procure medical marijuana.
The bill eliminates the requirement of written confirmation from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist in order for juveniles to get medical marijuana. It also calls for medical marijuana to be produced in edible form and allows more strains to be made available.
Also out of New Jersey, the state’s Health Department issued a permit for the second medical marijuana dispensary to begin growing its first crop. Compassionate Care Foundation Inc. will now join Greenleaf Compassion Center in bringing relief to the nearly 1,000 patients that have registered for the state’s medical marijuana program.
Governor Chris Christie to Sign Bill that Would Help Prevent Drug Overdose Deaths Today at 2:00 p.m.May 2nd, 2013
Trenton—Today at 2:00 p.m., Governor Chris Christie is scheduled to sign into law the Overdose Prevention Act, a bill designed to mitigate the high number of drug overdose deaths that occur in New Jersey each year. The signing will take place at Turning Point, a drug treatment facility in Paterson. Several dozen family members who lost loved ones to an overdose, as well as public health organizations and treatment providers will be present.
Governor Chris Christie and Legislature Reach Agreement on Bill that Would Help Prevent Drug Overdose DeathsApril 29th, 2013
Trenton—Today, Governor Chris Christie and leadership in the New Jersey Legislature reached agreement on a bill to help prevent drug overdose deaths. Senate President Stephen Sweeney called the Senate into session to vote on the compromise bill which passed by a vote of 24-1. The compromise was also passed today by the Assembly by a vote of 68-2.
New Jersey may open more medical marijuana dispensaries, according to the state’s health commissioner.
In early April, Gov. Chris Christie proposed allocating $1.6 million to fund New Jersey’s three-year-old medical marijuana program, doubling the initial spending plan.
Commissioner Mary O’Dowd told the state Senate Budget Committee that the extra money would be used to build and maintain treatment centers, as well as cover costs for inspections, testing protocols, and monitoring stores.
New Jersey currently only has one fully operational dispensary in Montclair, with four more in the process of acquiring state approval.
First-of-its-Kind New Report Finds New Jersey Jails Packed With Pretrial Inmates Unable to Pay Often Nominal Bail AmountsApril 8th, 2013
Trenton—County jails in New Jersey are packed with individuals who are incarcerated solely because they cannot afford their often nominal bail amounts, according to a new report released today by Luminosity in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance.
Legislative Chambers Move Measures To Decriminalize Marijuana In Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New JerseyMarch 22nd, 2013
Legislative chambers in four states — Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, and New Jersey — have passed measures to reclassify minor marijuana offenses as non-criminal violations, punishable by a fine only — no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record.
In Hawaii, Senate lawmakers this month unanimously passed Senate Bill 472, which reclassifies marijuana possession offenses from a criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine) to an infraction. On Thursday, March 14, members of the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a revised version of this proposal (SB 472, HD1). This revised version caps fine-only penalties at no more than $100 for violations by those age 18 or older involving 20 grams or less of cannabis. Senate Bill 472 now before the House Finance Committee, where it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. If passed by the House Finance Committee, the measure would still need to be voted by the full House and then it would return to the Senate before going to the Governor’s desk. You can read NORML’s testimony in support of this measure here. Hawaii voters who wish to learn more about this effort can visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here or visit the ACLU of Hawaii here.
Maryland lawmakers this week passed Senate Bill 297 by a vote of 30 to 16. The bill now goes before House lawmakers for further consideration. This is the first time in recent memory that a chamber of the Maryland legislature has voted to significantly reduce penalties for the non-medical use of cannabis. Presently, the possession of ten grams of cannabis or less is classified as a criminal misdemeanor, publishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. Senate Bill 297 makes minor marijuana offenses a fine-only, non-criminal infraction, punishable by a maximum fine of $100. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear SB 297 on Thursday, March 28, at 1pm. NORML will be testifying at this hearing. Maryland residents are urged to get involved in supporting SB 297 by clicking here.
Yesterday, New Hampshire House members voted 214 to 115 in favor of amended legislation, House Bill 621, that decriminalizes minor marijuana possession offenses. Under present law, the possession of any amount of cannabis is classified as a criminal misdemeanor publishable by up to one-year in jail and a $2,000 fine. This proposal seeks to make minor marijuana offenses (up to one-quarter of one ounce) a fine-only, non-criminal infraction. The vote marks the fourth time in five years that House lawmakers have approved decriminalizing cannabis. More than 50 additional House lawmakers approved the measure this year as opposed to last year. Nevertheless, this measure is anticipated to face resistance in the Senate as well as from newly elected Gov. Maggie Hassan. If you reside in New Hampshire, you can take action in support of HB 621 here.
Assembly Bill 1465, which reduces penalties for the adult possession of up to 15 grams or less of marijuana to a fine-only, non-criminal violation was approved last year by the New Jersey Assembly and awaits action by the Senate. Separate Senate Legislation, Senate Bill 1977, to decriminalize up to 50 grams of marijuana also remains pending. Under present state law, the possessing of up to 50 grams marijuana is punishable by up to 6 months incarceration, a $1,000 fine, and a criminal record. According to survey data compiled in 2011 by Rutgers University, a majority of New Jersey voters support reforming the state’s criminal marijuana laws. Pollsters found that 6 out of 10 voters favored removing criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenders and replacing them with the imposition of a civil fine. Just over half thought there should be no penalties at all. More information about these measures is available here.
To date, fifteen states have reduced marijuana possession to a fine-only offense. In nine of these states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island (beginning April 1, 2013) — the law defines the private, non-medical possession of marijuana by adults as a civil, non-criminal offense. Five additional states — Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio — treat marijuana possession offenses as a fine-only misdemeanor offense. Alaska imposes no criminal or civil penalty for the private possession of small amounts of marijuana, while Colorado and Washington recently imposed separate legislation legalizing the private possession of marijuana.
Several additional states, including Missouri and Vermont, are considering similar decriminalization measures. Nearly a dozen states are also considering legislation to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. A summary of state-by-state pending marijuana law reform measures is available from NORML’s ‘Take Action Center’ here.