A New Jersey legislative committee voted on Thursday to advance a invoice that may decriminalize the possession of marijuana and cut back the penalties for possessing small quantities of psilocybin mushrooms. The transfer by the Senate Price range and Appropriations Committee comes solely days after New Jersey voters authorised 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 yr, would take away all felony penalties for the possession of as much as six ounces of marijuana. Chris Goldstein, a South Jersey spokesman for the Nationwide Group for the Reform of Marijuana Legal guidelines (NORML), mentioned that roughly 100 persons are arrested for marijuana possession within the Backyard State daily.
“Justice for marijuana doesn’t begin till arrests cease,” Goldstein said. “And the constitutional modification to legalize hashish doesn’t do this, however this invoice might.”
Magic Mushrooms Shock Addition To Invoice
Because the invoice was being thought-about by the Senate Price range and Appropriations Committee, an unidentified senator added an modification to cut 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 believe most medication ought to be decriminalized or at the very least downgraded to one thing lower than a felony for private use. You simply noticed 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. However by the point the amended measure got here up for a vote within the committee on Thursday, Ruiz mentioned she was “not proud of the whole lot of the invoice.”
“Nevertheless it’s a compromise,” she mentioned. “At the least we’ve completed one thing. New Jersey is starting to proper its wrongs.”
Invoice Might Go Subsequent Week
Scutari mentioned that he believes that the invoice could possibly be handed by the legislature with a ground vote as early as subsequent week. As soon as 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 sort of haze” and mentioned that lawmakers ought to be sure 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 now to ensure that after we create the following frontier that we’ll have reparations and the chance to take somebody from the road nook to a storefront,” she mentioned.
“I’m actually proud that this invoice is exclusive in its variety,” Ruiz added. “New Jersey might be on the forefront of the decriminalization conversations.”