Home>Articles>Statements on New Jersey’s new Marijuana law

Statements on New Jersey’s new Marijuana law

By David Wildstein, February 22 2021 1:17 pm

U.S. SENATOR BOB MENENDEZ

“Today, Governor Murphy signed legislation into law that reflects the will of New Jerseyans who made their voices loud and clear last November when they voted to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults.  As always, the needs of our state will guide my work in the U.S. Senate, and I stand ready to advocate for federal policies that respect and protect the ability of local enterprises and law-abiding citizens to do business in a cannabis marketplace that is transparent, equitable, safe and accountable.”

U.S. SENATOR CORY BOOKER

“The failed War on Drugs has systematically targeted people of color and the poor, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities and hurting families in New Jersey and across our nation. Today is a historic day, and I applaud Governor Murphy, the legislature, and the many advocates for racial and social justice whose leadership is ensuring that New Jersey is at the forefront of equitable marijuana legalization policy. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to end the federal marijuana prohibition so we can finally begin healing the wounds of decades of injustice.”

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN NICHOLAS SCUTARI

“This will usher in a new era of social justice by doing away with the failed policy that criminalized the use of marijuana,” said Senator Scutari (D-Union), the leading advocate of legalizing adult-use marijuana in New Jersey over the past decade. “Too many people have been arrested, incarcerated and left with criminal records that disrupt and even destroy their lives. We don’t want the criminal justice system to be an unfair barrier to success.
“By implementing a regulated system that allows people age 21 and over to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use we will bring marijuana out of the underground market where it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades,” said Senator Scutari, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “New Jersey will now be a leader in legalizing a once stigmatized drug in ways that will help the communities hurt the most by the War on Drugs and realize the economic benefits of the new adult-use cannabis market.”

NEW JERSEY CANNABUSINESS ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT EDMUND DEVEAUX

“It took us a long time to get here, but thankfully, finally we can move forward. We can stop the senseless arrests for possession and use of a product that should have never been criminalized in the first place, and the voters approved over three months ago. We can get down to the business of establishing a responsible, sustainable, profitable and diverse adult-use and expanded medical cannabis market in New Jersey. Let’s learn lessons from states like Oklahoma – which has issued over 2,000 licenses helping to generate $800 million in new revenue for the state – and make New Jersey a leader in this industry.  Now the real work can begin.”

NEW JERSEY PBA

“On November, the citizens of New Jersey ended the debate about Marijuana legalization by passing the referendum.  We do not oppose the legalization of marijuana as an organization.  Police will do their jobs as the law directs us.  But a law that establishes an enforcement power cannot also make it illegal for law enforcement to use that power.

The law as it stands criminalizes any response or investigation by a police officer for illegal use by juveniles by detaining someone ‘for a longer period beyond the extent required’ to issue a ‘warning or write-up’.  This statute adds so much guess work and uncertainty that we would advise our members throughout the state to take no law enforcement action regarding marijuana or alcohol use by any party in the state.

This language is anti-police rhetoric at its worst and its consequences will be real.  Underage users of marijuana will be free to smoke it anywhere, including in places the bill says is illegal, because merely stopping a person to enforce the law is now illegal for police.  Drug dealers will quickly learn to hide their drugs, guns and evidence of crimes on anyone under 18 years of age since merely lighting a joint as the officer approaches will put the officer in jeopardy of making an illegal search and being charged criminally.

The bill permanently ties an officer’s hands.  An officer who sees or smells marijuana or alcohol cannot even inquire about the age of the user to ensure they can legally possess it, or the officer faces the charge of deprivation of civil rights, a 3rd degree offense subject to 3-5 years in prison, a fine of $15,000 or BOTH!

The solution exists to resolve this, either make it completely legal or provide an officer the right to ask for ID if marijuana is present and the rest of the law governing the issuance of warnings takes over.  Otherwise, this is a bill intentionally designed to make law enforcement officers criminals overnight in New Jersey.

To the good citizens of the State of New Jersey: If you as a citizen would like to report the underage use of marijuana or alcohol, please do not call 9-1-1. Call the Governor’s office or your local state legislator. We have literally been handcuffed.”

NEW JERSEY BUSINESS & INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION CHIEF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS OFFICER CHRISSY BUTEAS

“We are disappointed that the enabling legislation signed today to create an adult-use cannabis market falls short on allowing businesses to effectively maintain drug-free workplaces, as they are essential for certain safety occupations.

“By relying on certified experts whose training is not based on scientific standards, the legislation simply does not go far enough to maintain workplace safety. NJBIA was glad to hear recognition by our legislators today that there is a lack of workplace provisions in the current bills. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor’s office on clean-up legislation to address the safety concerns of the employer communities.”

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF NEW JERSEY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMOL SINHA

“With Governor Murphy’s signature, the decades-long practice of racist marijuana enforcement will begin to recede, in a shift that emphasizes the urgency of building the most equitable framework possible for cannabis legalization. Our state’s cannabis laws can set a new standard for what justice can look like, with the removal of criminal for possession and an unprecedented portion of revenue dedicated to addressing the harms wrought by the drug war. This is a new beginning – and the culmination of years of advocacy – and we must keep in mind that it is only the start. Signing these laws puts in motion the next phase of this effort: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalization into greater racial and social justice in New Jersey.”

NAACP NEW JERSEY STATE CONFERENCE PRESIDENT RICHARD SMITH

“We applaud the Legislature and Governor Murphy for passing and signing cannabis legalization and decriminalization into law today. For decades, cannabis prohibition has been used to systematically criminalize Black people across the state. Today is a historic day in the fight against the drug war, and we will continue our fight for racial justice in cannabis legalization through the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.”

SALVATION AND SOCIAL JUSTICE FOUNDING DIRECTOR REV. DR. CHARLES BOYER

“This is a critical step towards our goal of community liberation. We want to eliminate the weaponization of cannabis which criminalizes and incarcerates Black communities across New Jersey. Today’s bill includes prevailing elements that will advance racial and economic equity – a testament to the hard work of advocates, community organizers, and faith leaders from across New Jersey,” said Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer, Founding Director of Salvation and Social Justice. “Our goal is to ensure that cannabis regulation is not an entry point to criminalize Black and Brown youth. Although we still have a long way to go before we can officially end the drug war and dismantle oppressive systems keeping our brothers and sisters down, we are on our way to create a more just and equitable state for everyone.”

LATINO ACTION NETWORK PRESIDNET CHRISTIAN ESTEVEZ

“We are eager to see the CRC come to fruition; the end of possession arrests; and the full participation of Hispanic businesspeople in the newly created marketplace,” he added. “We want to thank Senators Sweeney, Scutari, Ruiz, Singleton, Cruz-Perez, and Pou along with Speaker Coughlin and Assembly members Wimberly, Sumter, Holley, Quijano, Danielson, and Burzichelli for the hard work they did towards making this happen.”

DOCTORS FOR CANNABIS REGULATION PRESIDENT DAVID NATHAN

“As a proud member of the NJUMR coalition, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation is grateful for all the hard work put in by lawmakers and fellow advocates to bring us to this historic moment in the advancement of public health and social justice in New Jersey. Now comes the hard work of helping the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to carry out its mandate to bring equity, diversity, and consumer protections to the nascent legal cannabis industry. With proper labeling and testing on the way, the legislation passed today will ensure that New Jersey cannabis consumers know what they’re getting when they purchase cannabis products.”

LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTION PARTNERSHIP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DIANE GOLDSTEIN

“This is a historic moment for public safety in New Jersey. With marijuana sales occurring in regulated, age-restricted storefronts, police will be better able to focus on their communities’ public safety priorities and forge the relationships necessary for strong, safe neighborhoods.”

CLARK MUNICIPAL PROSECUTOR JON-HENRY BARR

“At long last, the governor of New Jersey is carrying out the will of his constituents.  The headaches of needless arrests and court congestion can end, and we municipal prosecutors can focus our attention on offenses that constitute real crimes.

ARCHER, P.C. PARTNER BILL CARUSO

“I am proud of the collective work over the course of many years to get us to this point.  It has been a long strange trip, but together, we have worked across racial, socio economic, cultural, religious, ideological and partisan boundaries to change the culture concerning cannabis in NJ.  These efforts were validated this November here in NJ and across the country where cannabis won a resounding victory among a divided electorate. And, it is heartening to see our government leaders now answer that call. But, this is just the beginning and we look forward to working to forward this progress in the months and years to come.  Congratulations New Jersey!”

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