A coalition of activists has announced a new campaign, called New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, which will push for legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis like alcohol in the Garden State. The campaign, which officially launched in Newark on Wednesday, is comprised of local prosecutors, health officials and civil-rights activists.
“We need to take marijuana out of the parks and street corners and into licensed stores for adults,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “It would stop turning otherwise law-abiding adults into criminals.” According to Ofer, the New Jersey campaign has consulted with leading activists behind successful legalization campaigns around the country — if the New Jersey campaign is successful, the state would join Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. in the quest to end prohibition.
“I think [prohibition] is a wasteful activity from a law-enforcement perspective,” said President of the N.J. Municipal Prosecutors Association Jon-Henry Barr. “As a municipal prosecutor, I have had to waste countless taxpayer dollars and hours of police officers’ time to prosecute New Jerseyeans. The savings that will be realized [from legalization] will dwarf any drawbacks.”
A 2014 survey from Quinnipiac University found that New Jersey voters are evenly split on the issue of marijuana policy reform, with 48 percent both in favor and against legalization.
Current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a staunchly anti-cannabis Republican, has made it clear he does not support legalization efforts because it could send an irresponsible message to children. “To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey, and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that,” said Gov. Christie last year in regards to Colorado’s recreational marijuana market.
Activists are unconcerned with the Governor’s stance, however, and say that the campaign will be a “long-term push” — if that means waiting for the state’s next governor, so be it. “This is a campaign that’s going to win, no matter what it takes,” said Mr. Ofer.
Photo Credit: Paul Sableman
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