Activists have gathered together in Newark to announce a new coalition that will advocate for the taxation, regulation and legalization of recreational marijuana, according to NJ.com. The coalition is made up of ACLU, NAACP and LEAP members. Together, they argued that by legalizing the drug, the state would receive much more revenue. It would also lighten the burden placed upon police offers and law enforcement departments. An executive during the conference stated that it is time to take marijuana off the streets and put it behind the counters. The group also stated that New Jersey police officers deal with around 21,000 arrests every year because of marijuana, and this time could be better spent focusing on more serious crimes if the law went through.
The advocates also believe that marijuana arrests disproportionately affect and target black residents, and, even though they are not targeting a set bill or law, they still plan to examine how the legalisation has affected other states and how the same laws could affect New Jersey. The group proposes several usual state regulations on marijuana use – it would be restricted to those over 21 years of age, smoking and driving would be illegal, and each community in the state would regulate the maximum quantity residents could posess.
New Jersey did in fact pass a law that legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2009, and the state’s very first dispensary opened in 2012. For this reason, the participation for the program has been relatively low and the Gov. Chris Christie has stated that he will not support the legalization of recreational marijuana because he feels it sends the wrong message to children in the community.