Right here and now in New Jersey or politicians are trying to decide whether being caught in possession of marijuana should be legal or not. What is being proposed is that if a person is caught with say 14 grams they would get a ticket and fine automatically instead of being arrested and receiving possible jail time. The reason for this change of heart is in part due to overcrowding in our jails. If you are arrested and charged with possession of marijuana right now you could serve more time then a rapist.
That is kind of foolish and extreme, but it is what has been going on. What is interesting about all of this is the Asbury Park Press did a poll on this very issue and 52% came out in favor of decriminalizing it. The bill was passed 7-0 by the assembly yesterday, taking it a step closer to becoming law, this will put New Jersey on line with its surrounding states like New York and Connecticut.
Here in New Jersey in 2010 22,000 individual were arrested for marijuana drug possession. The punishment is often jail time and a lifetime of being stigmatized and discriminated against
which will follow a person for the rest of their lives. Why is this so wrong because the punishment right now does not fit the crime, if you are caught with 1 joint right now you will be considered a criminal. All too often that is the case,so we have people needlessly in jail for smoking pot, and our law enforcement is tied up wasting time on this rather then going after the real criminal in this state.
“The bill would decrease penalties for possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less to $150 for a first offense, $200 for a second violation and $500 for any subsequent violation. It would also make possession of drug paraphernalia for personal use of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a $100 civil penalty.”(Asbury Park Press Written By The State House Bureau)
What does this mean for the regular average person who smokes marijuana in the privacy of their own home, that on a state level you're not going to be bothered with someone storming your door and arresting you for possession if its for your own use and under 15 grams. Are many people doing that already yes, but with this change people won't have to read stories about kids turning their parents in for smoking pot, it will no longer make it a “dirty little secret” that many adult feel compelled to keep.
Statistically we already know that alcohol and tobacco are far more addictive than marijuana so why is it still so hard for some people to understand that these changes aren’t going to turn everyone into drug addicts. This change is long overdue and I sincerely hope it goes all the way. This is only the beginning of a long legislative process to get this passed into law. Not unlike many things it is that first step that matters when trying to create change.