There are 94 pot possession arrests in NJ every day, campaign says
If recreational marijuana use had received the green light in New Jersey back in March, about 15,000 people would have avoided arrest in the months since, according to advocates.
They'll need more help from the public than they will from legislators in getting New Jersey to make the move in 2020.
According to a campaign launched by elected officials and advocacy groups, citing FBI crime data, 94 people are arrested daily in New Jersey for low-level marijuana possession. That's up from 66 three years ago.
Initially created to push for passage of lame-duck session legalization — which legislative leaders say is off the table — the "94 no more" campaign will be revamped to reflect the likelihood that the issue will go before New Jersey voters next November.
"The message remains the same," Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, said. "It's an absolute travesty that we're arresting 94 people a day, 34,000 people every year, for something we know is healthier than opioids and alcohol."
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, said it's "amazing" that the daily arrest rate in New Jersey is rising as the state "gets closer to legalization." He said the rate would likely increase each year going forward without legalization.
"Each one of these arrests isn't just about the arrest and fines," he said. "It's about what it does to that life going forward. It's about the degree of upper mobility that they're going to be held back from, with respect to college, with respect to jobs."
Scutari, who's been advocating for legalization for several years, and Sen. President Steve Sweeney announced on November 18 that enough votes could not be gathered to legalize adult use legislatively, so a constitutional amendment will be proposed.
The campaign finds New Jersey has the third highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the U.S., costing taxpayers at least $130 million each year. Despite a similar use rate compared to whites, the campaign claims, African Americans are at least three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
The campaign urges individuals to use the hashtag #94NoMore on social media.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at email@example.com.