New Jersey Pushes to Legalize Marijuana

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“If Christie doesn’t eat the bill, maybe it has a chance”

When it comes to marijuana reform, New Jersey has arguably the worst, weed-leery Governor (Chris Christie) and arguably America’s worst medical marijuana program. The state still only has two medical marijuana dispensaries open for business, and both have a difficult time stocking their shelves, let alone serving New Jersey’s (very few) patients.

Fortunately, Chris Christie isn’t the state’s only legislature, and one New Jersey State Senator, Nicholas Scutari, has seen enough cannabis futility out of Christie and the Garden State to take matters into his own hands.

Scutari, a major proponent of New Jersey’s medical marijuana bill, will introduce a bill to outright legalize marijuana sometime in the next month. The bill calls for total legalization and not merely decriminalization.

Of course, as long as Christie remains in office, Scutari’s words spring hope, but probably boil down to irrelevance:

“We’re not delusional about how simple the effort would be,” Scutari said. “But I think from a standpoint of moving this state and this country forward on its archaic drug laws, I think it’s a step in the right direction.

“It’s high time that we address this issue head on,” he added.

And Scutari’s devotion to the bill stems from total logic: to stop wasting police time arresting petty stoners and to create tax revenue for a state in need (as they all are), particularly the still recovering Jersey Shore.

“It will provide us with a tremendous cost savings and time savings for our law enforcement officers,” said Scutari, a municipal prosecutor. “It’ll save our citizens from the unnecessary multiple court appearance and criminal record and it’ll provide us with much needed tax revenue.” [NJ.com]

This call for legalization has become a trend among pro-weed state Senator’s since Colorado’s successful legalization. But New Jersey remains among the East Coast’s most un-friendly weed states, so Scutari’s words are particularly poignant.

Simple marijuana possession in New Jersey is punishable with a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison, while possession of over 50 grams can result in a $25,000 fine and 1.5 years behind bars.

And if you’re caught selling weed in New Jersey? Just kiss your life goodbye.

But again, Chris “Candy Bar” Christie calls the shots in the Garden State, and Chris Christie will not have let his legacy go to pot. 

Ironically, when not too busy road-blocking his in-state enemies, Christie recently vowed to “end the war on drugs.” But has remained adamant that he’s reticent to evolve or change the state’s strict marijuana rules while in office.

For what it’s worth, Corey Booker, another state Senator (and former Mayor of crime-riddled New Jersey)–hopefully the state’s future Governor–has been outspoken about his support for marijuana reform.

So while this bill probably won’t come to fruition under Christie, at least the seeds for reform in New Jersey have been planted and have a chance. And if Christie runs for the GOP election in 2016…let’s just hope someone un-Christie like takes his spot.

As a former resident who spent 21 years in New Jersey, this just needs to happen. Or soon enough, all of the state’s pot-smoking delinquents will just move to Colorado or California like I did.

  

About Author

Barry has been writing about marijuana for over two years. Prior to joining Marijuana.com, Barry wrote about sports and music. His work has appeared on TIME, The Huffington Post, Deadspin, and elsewhere on the Internet. In his spare time, he enjoys disco and Kosher Kush.