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It's Time to Decriminalize Marijuana in the State of New Jersey

Posted by NORML NJ on Friday, March 25, 2011

While the State’s activists’ efforts have largely, and in some cases exclusively, focused on medical marijuana, we at NORML NJ would like to remind our members that NORML NJ is committed to the decriminalization of marijuana.

Every day, our State’s municipalities, punish without impunity, its citizens for marijuana possession. Marijuana is severely punished by the State under the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.

The Act’s absurdity is clearly evident in its classification between the two types of marijuana possession charges. The Act divides "criminals" into two camps. Those who possess more than 50 grams of marijuana and those who possess less than 50 grams of marijuana. Effectively, the law views a person who possesses a baggy containing seeds and stems the same as someone who possesses nearly two ounces of marijuana.

The State, the County, and the Municipalities and their Police Departments have used the Act to raise revenues. If you possess two ounces or more, the Court can enter a fine of up to $25,000. If you posses less than 50 grams, it is considered a disorderly persons offense which may subject you to a fine of at least $1,000 and 6 months in prison. For these reasons, police officers target youths who quietly sit in parked cars passing a joint. Unfortunately for our State’s youth, many drug convictions carry with it the consequence that a possession charge equals a denial of student aid from the Federal government.

While the Act provides for conditional discharges and pre-trial intervention programs, if you are caught for a second time, those options are typically not available to you.

We, as New Jerseyans, have been lulled into a state of apathy. We accept government intrusion into our lives, homes, careers, and vehicles. If there is to be any change, we must contact our town and state representatives, and tell them that we are tired of being punished for using a drug that is far less harmful than most pharmaceutical drugs and other legal drugs, like alcohol. We, as New Jerseyans, have to come out of the marijuana closet and campaign for a greener Garden State for future generations.

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