A New Jersey legislative committee voted on Thursday to advance a invoice that might decriminalize the possession of marijuana and cut back the penalties for possessing small quantities of psilocybin mushrooms. The transfer by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee comes solely days after New Jersey voters accepted a constitutional modification to legalize hashish for adults and create a regulated marketplace for leisure marijuana gross sales within the state.
The invoice, S. 2535, which was initially launched earlier this 12 months, would take away all prison penalties for the possession of as much as six ounces of marijuana. Chris Goldstein, a South Jersey spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), mentioned that roughly 100 individuals are arrested for marijuana possession within the Garden State day-after-day.
“Justice for marijuana doesn’t start until arrests stop,” Goldstein said. “And the constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis doesn’t do that, but this bill could.”
Magic Mushrooms Surprise Addition To Bill
As the invoice was being thought-about by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, an unidentified senator added an modification to scale back the possession of as much as one ounce of psilocybin mushrooms from a felony to a disorderly individual offense. Democratic Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the bulk whip, mentioned that he agrees with the change.
“I’m 100% in favor of it. I think most drugs should be decriminalized or at least downgraded to something less than a felony for personal use. You just saw Oregon downgrade heroin and cocaine,” Scutari mentioned, referring to an initiative to decriminalize all medication that additionally succeeded in that state on the poll field final week. “We’re not doing that.”
Newark Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, additionally a Democrat, launched the unique model of the marijuana decriminalization invoice in June. But by the point the amended measure got here up for a vote within the committee on Thursday, Ruiz mentioned she was “not happy with the entirety of the bill.”
“But it’s a compromise,” she mentioned. “At least we’ve accomplished something. New Jersey is beginning to right its wrongs.”
Bill Could Pass Next Week
Scutari mentioned that he believes that the invoice might be handed by the legislature with a ground vote as early as subsequent week. Once that occurs, the measure would head to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy for his approval and signature.
Ruiz mentioned that the quickness of the method had left her in “a kind of haze” and mentioned that lawmakers ought to be certain that these in New Jersey’s illicit hashish market be permitted to take part in legalized commerce. The amended model of the invoice additionally decriminalizes the distribution of as much as one ounce of marijuana for the primary offense.
“We have to make sure that when we create the next frontier that we’ll have reparations and the opportunity to take someone from the street corner to a storefront,” she mentioned.
“I’m really proud that this bill is unique in its kind,” Ruiz added. “New Jersey will be at the forefront of the decriminalization conversations.”