First of all, when the legalization of recreational marijuana went to a ballot before voters in November, it was sold to us as something strictly for adults. We were assured this would only be adults 21 and over and that marijuana for minors would remain illegal and unacceptable.
I don’t believe anyone saw coming a system that would tell cops they can’t inform parents if their 13 year old is caught with weed. Not only can they not tell the parents on a first offense, they’ll be considered the criminal if they do.
Nor can police search a kid, or detain a kid, or even issue a kid a fine. All they can do is give them a written warning. Something Republican Sen. Mike Testa opined they’ll use to roll their next joint.
On a second offense they can then tell the parents. But they still can’t charge the minor with anything. On the third offense they can tell the parent and put them in some counseling and maybe a $50 fine. But that’s it.
They’ve basically decriminalized marijuana for minors. To make what they’ve done even worse, the same protocol now applies to minors caught with alcohol. None of us who voted yes on the ballot question had this in mind. This was a bait and switch.
How else has Murphy screwed up legalization? Well now the NAACP is angry and I don’t blame them. How many times did progressive Phil Murphy pitch the idea of legalization based on “social justice” and pointing out the disparity in punishment between white people and black people for marijuana possession? It was a near constant drumbeat.
In fact, according to NJ.com, the legislation itself required a person on the regulatory committee to be a “state representative of a national organization or State branch of a national organization with a stated mission of studying, advocating, or adjudicating against minority historical oppression, past and present discrimination, unemployment, poverty and income inequality, and other forms of social injustice or inequality.”
Murphy has filled all 11 seats and the NAACP says it can’t see this credential reflected in a single one of them. Further, they point out there's only one black person on the commission and that is a woman. Black men have been the ones historically discriminated against with overzealous prosecution of marijuana cases and not a single black man is serving at this table. Or as Richard Smith, president of the state NAACP conference put it, “We can be arrested for it, our lives can be ruined by it, and yet it doesn’t appear that we’re good enough to be on the commission.”
Then there’s also the matter of home grow being left out of legalization. Of the states that legalized recreational marijuana, the vast majority allow home grow and more states like Washington are considering revising that exclusion. But here’s backwards New Jersey saying we legalized marijuana but you’re a criminal if you grow this plant. What they really did is legalized marijuana for THEM to supply and to tax.
These are just some of the many things that went wrong on this long road to legalization. I have a feeling we’re nowhere near the end.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.