New Jersey Assembly Committee Approves Legalization ‘Clean-Up’ Bill to Appease Governor

Lawmakers in the New Jersey Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee have approved a piece of so-called “clean-up” legislation aimed at getting Gov. Phil Murphy to approve the state’s voter-backed legalization plan.

Full story after the jump.

The New Jersey Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee on Friday approved a revised version of the so-called “clean-up” legislation demanded by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in order for him to sign the broad adult-use cannabis legalization bill, NJ 101.5 reports.

The new bill sets civil fines for cannabis possession of by individuals aged 18 to 20 at $50 to $100, depending on the amount of cannabis possessed, down from $250 to $500 as outlined in the original cleanup proposal, which was abandoned by lawmakers last month.

The proposal also includes procedures that police are supposed to follow when interacting with juveniles found in possession of cannabis that revolve around point-of-violation warnings, rather than formal court proceedings. Under the bill, the attorney general would be required to issue reports twice a year with statistics on those warnings and other juvenile interventions related to legalization.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D) said the rules in the law “are very consistent (with) what happens currently with alcohol” in the state and that it doesn’t put charges on the criminal records of youths “that could deter them from college, tuition assistance to housing to opportunities to work in law enforcement or any type of public safety work.”

Ami Kachalia, campaign strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, told NJ 101.5 that, despite voters approving legalization reforms in November, police arrested more than 4,000 in November and December alone for possessing less than 50 grams of cannabis.

“In fact,” she added, “data from Newark show that the city is on track to make more cannabis-related arrests this month than they did last January.”

The new clean-up bill comes as Murphy – who supported the reforms – has until February 8 to act on the Legislature-approved legislation. Murphy has said he prefers to sign the legalization and decriminalization bills simultaneously.

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