Assembly Bill Would Let Cops Focus on Violent Crimes
TRENTON, NJ -- A bill to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce of marijuana was introduced in the New Jersey General Assembly with bipartisan support on Wednesday. The bill, which is being endorsed by a group of police and judges who once waged the "war on drugs," comes less than a month after Connecticut legislators passed similar legislation decriminalizing marijuana.
Jack Cole, a 26-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police and board chairman for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said, "As a former undercover narcotics detective in New Jersey, I now know that all the time and resources I spent arresting people for marijuana offenses over the course of my career didn't accomplish anything good. In addition to being a waste of money that should have been spent solving and preventing violent crimes, these arrests in many cases ruined otherwise productive people's lives. The marijuana decriminalization bill is a great first step to undoing some of the damage wrought by the failed 'war on drugs.'"
The New Jersey bill, A4252, would remove criminal penalties for adults who posses less than 15 grams of marijuana. It is sponsored by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R) with 15 additional co-sponsors.
Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that New Jersey currently spends more than $183 million every year enforcing its marijuana prohibition laws. In 2009, 22,439 people in New Jersey were arrested for possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana.
Rachel Cotrino, an attorney and Board member at NORML NJ, said, “In addition to imprisonment, offenders of the current law face loss of driving privileges from six months to two years. This unreasonably punitive measure causes many, otherwise law abiding citizens, to lose their jobs because they cannot get to work. Offenders also face eviction from their leased premises or loss of public housing. It is time to decriminalize the individual user and remove the current penalties that stifle our community and economy.”
Fourteen states in the U.S. have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2011
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