New Jersey’s Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday advanced a bill to lower the penalty for possessing up to one ounce of psilocybin mushrooms from a potential five-year prison sentence to a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in jail, NJ.com reports. The measure drops the classification from a third-degree crime to a disorderly person offense.
Psilocybin decriminalization was included as an amendment to the cannabis legalization bill previously approved by the Senate, but Assembly leaders would not vote on a bill that included psilocybin reforms. Assemblyman James Kennedy (D), the bill’s sponsor, explained the standalone measure is “simpler than what appears on the surface,” describing it as a “downgrading of the charges.”
The Judiciary Committee approved the measure 4-1 with one abstention. Republican Christopher P. DePhillip, the lone ‘no’ vote, said he opposed the measure because he thinks “the bill sends the message to young people…that the recreational use of these substances is really not that big a deal.”
During last month’s General Election, voters in Washington D.C. approved an initiative to decriminalize psychedelic plants and fungi, while Oregon voters decriminalized all drugs and legalized psilocybin therapy. Several California cities have moved to end the criminalization of mushroom possession, along with the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on Friday that lawmakers had come to an agreement on the cannabis legalization bills required by the voter-approved ballot question.