The New Jersey state Assembly passed a bill on Monday in a 44-30 vote to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
If passed, the bill would make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a civil penalty, instead of a criminal one. Fines would range from $150 to $500, with $50 going toward drug education programs. ’Criminals’ of the current law can be hit with a $1,000 fine, up to six months in prison and suspension of their driver’s license. The current penalties have more than enough teeth to destroy a person’s future over trivial amounts of marijuana.
The measure has bipartisan support, although GOP support is significantly lighter. The New Jersey state Senate has not looked at the bill yet. However, Governor Chris Christie has made clear he would veto the bill if it came across his desk. Christie claims he’s busy trying to implement a state medical marijuana program and is not in favor of any changes that would ease pot laws or clash with the Feds too heavily.
The current NJ law and penalties are simply out of touch and too draconian, and governor Christie is part of that image. How do you feel about Christie’s handling of marijuana compared to other states?