By Angela Underwood
Now it is New Jersey’s time to find out if residents are ready to welcome weed into their communities, with lawmakers approving the 2020 ballot measure.
If Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy had his way, weed would already be legal like the other 11 states across the country, particularly north of New Jersey’s borders in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. But the Democrat leader, who joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other East Coast leaders in cannabis constitutionalism, was shut down, left only with a referendum to save the day.
Pollingreport.com records up to 63% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana nationally based on an NPR/PBS News Hour stats. As a matter of fact, the answer to most questions concerning cannabis are answered with a yes more than no, proving Americans are more than ready for prohibition to end as soon as possible.
The New York Daily Weed Report has a funny feeling New Jersey will follow suit with American citizens letting their officials know they also choose weed and something needs to be done about.
As far as the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is concerned, the 147-page legalization bill, which included important provisions for equity and would have taken effect sooner, was the way to go to begin with. Communications Director Violet Cavendish with theWashington-based non-profit talked with The New York Daily Report to explain just why.
“It also included social equity provisions that the voter referendum lacks, such as expungement provisions and provisions to ensure the industry includes communities most harmed by prohibition,” Cavendish said, adding the including of the provisions in cannabis legislation is an essential component to address the harms that have been caused by decades of prohibition.
“If voters approve legalization on the ballot, MPP will continue to work toward passing legislation that will further advance social justice priorities under legalization,” she said.
While the law-changing group admits they played a modest role in New Jersey for several years, including support to local advocates to advance sensible cannabis policies and keeping members updated and engaged on key developments, that is now changing.
“In the past several months, MPP has played an expanded role in advancing humane marijuana policies in the state,” Cavendish said. “In early November, MPP retained a respected lobbying firm to assist, and MPP staff have spent considerable time working to advance equitable legalization and decriminalization and expungement in the meantime.”
She added that why the MPP’s director of state policies testified before both the Assembly and Senate committees in support of the voter referral, and we helped mobilize other witnesses through our local partners.
“We’ve also provided suggestions to ensure the decriminalization bill achieves its intent, including to ensure it includes paraphernalia,” she added.
When you get down to the nitty-gritty, the state and the people of New Jersey would benefit from cannabis legalization in multiple ways, according to Cavendish.
“Legalizing cannabis will dramatically reduce arrests, which disproportionately impact African Americans,” she said adding taxing and regulating cannabis will boost the state’s economy. “The cannabis industry will create thousands of good, middle-class jobs in local communities in New Jersey.”
Legalizing and regulating cannabis also benefit public health and safety by reducing violence, according to Cavendish, who said it will stop diverting police time away from serious crime.
“A majority of New Jersians support cannabis legalization, and we are optimistic that 2020 will be the year New Jersey finally replaces the failed policy of prohibition with a more sensible and compassionate approach,” Cavendish said.