Just about an hour ago we had some news break about the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, and if you live in New Jersey, you are probably seeing some Italians doing some pretty aggressive fist pumps at the Shore right about now, and not because they are happy. After about a month of talks, the effort by the Democrats fell apart, leaving the state’s efforts to get legalization passed in serious jeopardy.
New Jersey Fails to Get Support for Legalization of Marijuana
Gov. Philip D. Murphy had a central campaign pledge that was rejected, in what the NY Times called “one of the biggest setbacks for Mr. Murphy.” He had the assembly and State Senate on his side, but did deal with infighting, according to the article.
(Excuse me if I don’t always write things in the most legal ways to say them, it’s easy for me to report on the topic of marijuana but when it comes to deciphering legal and political speak, I’m not the best.)
It read further that some of the African-American lawmakers felt that the legalization would not be good for the community. (I’m not sure what race has to do with this, I’m just reporting on what I know and read.)
The interesting part of the story here is that the proposed bill would have provided a clean slate to many criminals who were convicted of minor drug infractions. We’re speaking about hundreds of thousands of people being affected by that sweeping move. Additionally, it would have set a lot of people free who are currently in jail as well as end parole for many other convicted parties.
The now dead bill sought diversification to an industry that traditionally is full of Caucasian entrepreneurs in the states where marijuana on a recreational level is decriminalized. Selling and cultivating cannabis would be something that women and minorities would be given free reign to do, further diversifying the scope of who controls and enjoys the fruits of the cannabis industry.
“We have the widest white-nonwhite gap of persons incarcerated in America and far and away the biggest contributor is low-end drug offenses,” Mr. Murphy said recently at a news conference where he made his case for legalizing marijuana. “The status quo is unacceptable.”
(Now the race part is making a bit more sense to me.)
In the end, the expunging of the criminal records was a really big factor in this bill not passing, according to the article. Ironically, most of New Jersey showed support for the legalization of marijuana in their state, according to surveys, and Mr. Murphy made that a huge part of his campaign last fall.
More on this story as it becomes available. I’m also following New Mexico very closely.