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It\'s Time for a Veto Proof Majority

Posted by NORML NJ on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On June 25, 2012, the New Jersey Assembly Passed the Assembly Bill A1465, the bill to Decriminalize Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana.  The vote was 44-30; just 10 votes shy of a veto proof majority.  In order to override Governor Christie's expected veto, we need to guarantee 54 votes in the Assembly and 27 votes in the Senate.  Only the Assembly has voted and there are only 44 votes in favor of the bill. 

As the names of the members of the Assembly who voted against the bill are released, NORML NJ will publicize those names and ask supporters from all over the state to call those offices.  Those state representatives should be shamed for voting against a bill that will set in place a more sensible framework.

The current law is costly, ineffective, and disproportionately punitive.  The State of New Jersey has classified individual marijuana users as criminals and has classified the following acts as misdemeanors: possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana, failure to provide the marijuana to a nearby police officer, possession of paraphernalia (for example: pipe or zip lock bag), and being under the influence of marijuana (in addition to the DUI laws).  These laws are geared towards punishing and criminalizing the individual cannabis user.

The web of penalties are costly and have life long consequences:

  • -Up to six months imprisonment (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-8)
  • -A fine of up to $1000 (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3(c))
  • -Loss of Public Housing (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1)
  • -Potential Eviction from leased residential premises (N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1)
  • -Loss of driving privileges for not less than six months and up to two years. (2C:35-16)
  • -Mandatory loss of driving privileges for two years if the marijuana is in a motor vehicle. (N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1)
  • -A term of community service (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2b(5))
  • -A mandatory $75 Safe Neighborhoods Services assessment (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3.2)
  • -A mandatory $50 lab fee (2C:35-20)
  • -A mandatory $50 Victims of Crime Compensation Board penalty (2C:43-3.1a(2)(a))
  • -A mandatory $500 Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction penalty (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-15(e))
  • -A period of probation of up to five years (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-2b(2); State v. Dove, 202 N.J.Super. 540, (Law Div. Jan 29, 1985))

A1465, the bill to decriminalize marijuana in NJ will provide some relief by decriminalizing the possession of 15g of marijuana (or less), the failure to provide it to a nearby police officer, being under the influence of marijuana (except for when driving in a vehicle-all DUI laws apply), and possession of paraphernalia for personal use.

NORML NJ needs every supporter of marijuana reform to contact their representatives, those in the State Senate and in the Assembly.  We are only 10 votes shy of a veto proof majority in the Assembly.  Please call your representatives and ask them to help create history and save the lives of tens of thousands of people in our state.

Thank you.

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