Bill To Decriminalize Marijuana Posted For Vote By The Full Assembly Thursday, May 24th!
Posted by NORML NJ on Tuesday, May 22, 2012
From DPA: Assembly Bill 1465, which would make possession of one-half ounce, or 15 grams, of marijuana a summary offense similar to a parking ticket, has been posted for a vote by the full Assembly this Thursday, May 24th! The vote will take place in the Assembly Chambers of the Statehouse in Trenton. The time of the voting session is TBA.
You're invited to join us in the gallery to observe this important legislative vote, but please be advised, this is not an opportunity to provide public testimony. If you plan on attending the Assembly voting session, please let me know as soon as possible. Directions to the statehouse and instructions for parking can be found here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/legislativepub/directions.asp. Please remember to bring a photo ID with you as you will need this for entry into the statehouse.
If you are unavailable to come to Trenton in person on Thursday, you can monitor the vote live from the Legislature's homepage: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp or watch it later at your convenience once the proceedings have been archived here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/archive_audio2.asp?KEY=A&SESSION=2012.
To insure we have enough votes for passage, it's crucial that members of the Assembly hear from constituents like you regarding this common sense reform! Please take a moment today to make 2 phone calls to your legislators urging them to do the right thing and vote in support of A1465 on Thursday. Based on the municipality in which you live, you can look up your Assembly members' phone number on the legislative website: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp. Each district has two Assembly representatives. Below my signature are talking points on the bill and a list of the current legislative sponsors. If your legislator happens to be a sponsor of the bill, please feel free to call them anyway and thank them for sponsoring A1465.
You can also help us make the biggest impact possible by forwarding this email to friends, colleagues and to your mailing lists. If you have a Facebook page, post a message urging action now. If your organization has a website, please consider posting this message on your site.
I will continue to keep you posted as the legislation progresses. Thanks again for all that you do!
Meagan Glaser | Policy Manager
Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey
16 West Front Street, Suite 101A | Trenton, NJ 08608
Voice: 609.396.8613 | Fax: 609.396.9478
Think the drug war is doing more harm than good? Join us!
TALKING POINTS & STATISTICS:
· Nearly 23,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010, up from approximately 20,000 in 2006.
· Although whites and blacks consume marijuana at equal rates, African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
· In 2010, there were 853,838 marijuana arrests in the United States—one every 37 seconds. Almost 90 percent of these arrests were for simple possession, not distribution or manufacture.
· Under Assembly Bill 1465, the possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana would be a summary offense, punishable by a fine of $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation and $500 for a third. Currently, possession of this amount is a disorderly persons offense that carries a penalty of up to a $1000 fine and six months in jail. Additional fines of more than $600 may also be imposed under the existing statute. A conviction also results in a criminal record that cannot be expunged for at least five years.
· More than 22,086 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2012. This is a waste of law enforcement resources and taxpayer money. And a marijuana conviction can have tragic long-term consequences for individuals. People may lose jobs or be unable to secure employment because of a criminal record. Students who incur a marijuana conviction can lose their student loans. The punishment doesn’t fit the offense.
· Nearly 50 percent of Americans admit to having tried marijuana at some point in their lives, making it the most widely used illicit substance in the United States. The vast majority of these people never progress to addiction or the use of serious drugs—in fact, less than 10 percent of those who try marijuana will ever develop a substance use disorder.
· Tragically, although statistics show that people of all races consume marijuana at the same rates, poor people of color overwhelmingly suffer the criminal consequences. In New Jersey, African-Americans are arrested for marijuana possession in grossly disproportionate numbers, especially those living in socially and economically marginalized communities. For example, in Essex County, blacks make up approximately 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the arrests for marijuana possession. In Camden County, nearly 40 percent of marijuana arrestees are African-American, yet they only represent 20 percent of the area’s total population.
· 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. Absent a conviction, the collateral consequences of a mere arrest can include immeasurable stigma and emotional humiliation, the sometimes unmanageable financial burden of posting bail and hiring a lawyer, and lost hours at work or school.
· Assembly Bill 1465 is sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Hunterdon and Mercer), Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris and Somerset), Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Hunterdon and Mercer), Assemblyman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), Assemblyman Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex), Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker (D-Essex), Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (D-Monmouth), Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union), Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington and Camden), Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex and Morris), Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hudson), Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth).