The state of New Jersey implemented its medical cannabis program back in December of 2012. Since then, both the program itself and the market for medical herb in the state have seen some significant growth and improvements. Governor Phil Murphy would like to see even more advancements when it comes to cannabis freedom, as he recently proposed full legalization of the plant medicine and came out in favor of recreational sales.
“I greatly respect those in this chamber who have proposed decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, and I thank them for recognizing the importance of doing what’s right and just for those who carry criminal records for past possession arrests,” Murphy said.
This was a diplomatic opening statement for Governor Murphy, but his next statement hit the Garden State legislature with some truth.
“But decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see. If these are our goals, then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults,” Murphy said.
These statements from Governor Murphy are about as on point as you’ll hear out of a politician when it comes to cannabis legalization. It’s nice to see that elected officials, at least at the state levels, are finally admitting to the destructiveness that is the 81-year-old war on weed. Naturally, there were those with a prohibitionist mindset that opposed Governor Murphy’s call for outright legalization and recreational cannabis, including State
Senator Ronald Rice. Senator Rice sponsored the bill to decriminalize cannabis possession, and didn’t like the fact that Governor Murphy rejected it.
“He’s listening to policy people and money people around him but not people like myself,” said Senator Rice, who used to be a law enforcement officer. “The governor and I should go to Colorado and talk to people in the hood.”
These comments from Senator Rice are puzzling, as he is implying that minority groups in Colorado are experiencing more legal trouble and criminality after the legalization of cannabis. The fact of the matter is that 8.2 million cannabis arrests were made between the years of 2001 and 2010 (before legalization), the vast majority of which being simple possession. In that time, African-Americans were almost 4 times as likely than white Americans to be arrested for cannabis, according to the ACLU – even though both groups consume the plant about equally.