Although Governor Chris Christie has threatened to veto legislation seeking to decriminalize or legalize marijuana use or possession, on November 16, 2015, New Jersey’s Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from decriminalization and legalization proponents without taking any vote on pending legislation.
New Jersey presently allows for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, which is difficult to obtain and expensive (up to $500 an ounce) and its use is tightly regulated.
As currently written, proposed New Jersey bill A1896 would allow adults aged twenty one (21) and over to possess an ounce or less of marijuana and cultivate up to six (6) plants in an enclosed, locked space for personal use and not for sale.
Marijuana sale regulation would mirror New Jersey’s regulation of alcohol through authorizing current “Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control” – – to be renamed “Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Marijuana Control” – – to issue retail-sales licenses and permit local governments to ban marijuana retail sales within their borders.
Marijuana sale would be taxed at seven (7) percent, seventy (70) percent of which would go to New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund, twenty (20) percent to drug education programs, and ten (10) percent to women’s health programs.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, in 2014 there were more than 24,000 arrests for marijuana possession in New Jersey the statistics for which show that African Americans are arrested at three (3) times the rate of whites, although marijuana use is at approximately the same level between the two (2) groups.
New Jersey Municipal Prosecutors Association takes the position that county prosecutors no longer want to devote the time or resources to prosecute “small amounts of marijuana cases” which are bumped down to the municipal court level and often dismissed on speedy trial grounds because of backlogs at laboratories testing if contraband seized in an arrest is marijuana.
If elected president, New Jersey Governor Christie has promised to “crack down” on states that now permit marijuana use.