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Marijuana No Longer A Crime?

Marijuana
Flickr user: PabloEvans

The bill to decriminalize possession of marijuana is wildly popular. But if the legislature passes it, will Governor Christie sign it?

First the background. This was sponsored by 15 democrats and 3 republicans in the NJ Assembly. It says if you’re caught with up to 15 grams of marijuana, enough for about 30 joints, you won’t be arrested. It’s simply a fine, like a speeding ticket. Heaviest fine for 3rd and subsequent violations would be $500. If you’re over 21 and caught 3 times you’d have to take some sort of “drug class” too. And there’d be no criminal record. You could apply for jobs and they’d never have to know about it. Compare that to current laws which could mean months in prison for being caught with even one joint in your car and a permanent criminal record.

This bill sailed through a judiciary committee unanimously. It was to go before the full Assembly for a vote today but that vote was delayed. There’s a companion bill in the Senate but hasn’t received a hearing yet. There’s such forward momentum on this though, it begs the question. If it is passed by the full legislature, do you think the Governor will sign off on it?

On one hand, he’s been a vocal opponent of the Compassionate Care Act, hasn’t done anything valid in clearing away the red tape and roadblocks stunting the implementation of the medical marijuana program, and has even had the audacity to question a multiple sclerosis patient’s diagnosis who says he needed marijuana for his disease. On the other hand, he’s been pushing for drug courts and mandatory drug counseling over the more expensive option of incarceration for non-violent offenders. A spokesperson from the governor’s office said the governor had no position so far on the decriminalization bill. So is it anybody’s guess?

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