New Jersey Assembly Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Ahead Of Legalization Referendum

New Jersey Assembly Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Ahead Of Legalization Referendum

The New Jersey Assembly approved a marijuana decriminalization bill on Thursday. The legislation, which would make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis a civil penalty punishable by a $50 fine and no jail time, cleared the chamber in a 63-10 vote, with five abstentions. This comes days after the legislation advanced out of the Community Development and Affairs Committee. As a November referendum on broader marijuana legalization approaches, legislators have pushed for the modest reform in the interim. Interest in enacting decriminalization has increased amid protests over racial injustice, with advocates arguing that cannabis criminalization contributes to disparities in the criminal justice system. Under the proposal, possession of more than two ounces but less than one pound would be punishable by up to six months in prison or up to a $1,000 fine for a first offense. Additionally, the bill would create a “legal presumption” that possession of up to two ounces “is the authorized possession of medical cannabis or a medical cannabis product” under state law. Only if there’s a “preponderance of evidence” would such possession be considered unlawful and warrant a civil penalty. The measure would provide for “virtual expungements” for convictions where the penalties were reduced under the bill. The expungement would be available “without need to petition a court for an expungement order granting such result.” Another provision calls for expanded education about opportunities for expungements. The proposal also provides for protection from discrimination for people affected by cannabis laws. “The time for lawmakers…

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Source : MJ moment
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