The Assembly Judiciary Committee heard almost uniformly supportive testimony before unanimously approving the proposal Monday.
The measure downgrades possession of up to 35 marijuana cigarettes and drug paraphernalia, making both civil offenses punishable by fines of $100 to $500.
Supporters say decriminalization is long overdue. Fourteen other states have already done so, including New York and Connecticut.
Of course opponents say marijuana is a gateway drug, a theory that has been dis-proven time and again. With 15 Democrat and 3 Republican sponsors the bill has some bipartisan support.
Under any analysis the resources wasted on arresting and processing people for marijuana possession is immense. Since marijuana use continues to go up, one has to wonder what the point is?
And in current economic and budgetary conditions, no state can afford to waste that much money. They really can’t afford to waste any money at all, and it seems like an expensive, failed policy would be the first one to cut.
The Senate version of the bill was introduced last week by Nick Scutari, chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee.