- In 2010, New Jersey became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana after the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was passed (Medical Marijuana). The implementation efforts of the law, however, were stalled by Chris Christie, an anti-marijuana Governor who took office later that year. The law took effect in August 2012, and it allows registered physicians to recommend eligible patients for a medical marijuana program that provides individuals with up to two ounces of medical marijuana within 30 days (Medical Marijuana). To qualify for the medical marijuana program, individuals must have a bonafide physician-patient relationship, and the registered physician must certify that the individual has the approved medical condition.
- (i) New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act, Senate Bill 2703
(ii) New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act, Assembly Bill 4497
(iii) The marijuana legalization bill was proposed by Phil Murphy, A New Jersey Governor serving on the Democratic Party.
(iv) The opponent of the marijuana legalization bill is Christopher Bateman, the New Jersey Senator serving on the Republican Party.
- The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act, if passed, would allow individuals aged 21 and above to possess, consume, or purchase an ounce of marijuana or less (Sitrin). However, individuals would have to wait for six months after the passage of the bill in order to start the recreational use of marijuana.
The bill also, if passed, would allow retail sales of recreational marijuana six months after its approval. Looking at the slow pace of sales processes of marijuana in other states, however, it is clear that the sale of recreational marijuana might take up to a year.
The third feature of the marijuana bill is the expungement. Individuals who had earlier been convicted of low-level marijuana possession will be able to apply for the clearance of the charges from their records.
- Governor Murphy is passionate about legalizing recreational use of marijuana because it would promote social justice by stopping disproportional arrests and conviction of minorities. He is also inspired by the economic boom that the marijuana industry would create for New Jersey if residents would be allowed to purchase and sell marijuana for recreational use.
The new marijuana law aims to deliver social justice because, as mentioned above, the drug’s prohibition laws have led to disproportional arrests of black and brown people. Those that have been charged for minor marijuana offenses would also be expunged if the bill is passed. Furthermore, 25% of the marijuana business licenses are slated for women, minorities, and veterans. Small businesses would also be considered under the proposed bill (Sitrin).
Before the legalization of possession, consumption, purchase, and sale of marijuana, these acts had been constitutionally criminalized. Legalization of marijuana for both medical and recreational use would do away with criminalization of the drug, meaning those who had been charged with the possession of low-level marijuana would be no longer criminals. Expungement allows these offenders to clear their records.
Legalization of marijuana can be compromised by decriminalization. The possession of a small amount of marijuana would not be charged. Decriminalization would control the population of the incarcerated and allow individuals to live without fear of having criminal records, which sometimes may lead to loss or lack of employment.
565 municipalities are at odds with Governor Murphy’s interests because of fear of the new marijuana law harming the black community that is already facing challenges such as unemployment and drug abuse. A fair compromise would be the consideration of the minority community. The law should focus on empowering minorities through business licenses and ensuring that recreational use of the drug is not violated.
Medical Marijuana. “New Jersey Medical Marijuana Laws”. Medical Marijuana. 2017. Retrieved from https://www.medicalmarijuana.com/law/new-jersey-medical-marijuana-laws/. 17 April 2019.
Sitrin, Carly. “This is What’s in N.J.’s Landmark Marijuana Bill”. WHYY. 21 March 2019. Retrieved from https://whyy.org/articles/this-is-whats-in-n-j-s-landmark-marijuana-bill/. 17 April 2019.