N.J. lawmakers discuss pros and cons of legalizing recreational marijuana

Kim Glovas
November 26, 2018 - 3:54 pm
Jan 2, 2018; West Hollywood, CA, USA; Marijuana samples on display at MedMen in West Hollywood. January 1 it became legal in California to sell recreational marijuana, but many shops began sales on Jan.2.

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

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NEW JERSEY  (KYW Newsradio) —  New Jersey lawmakers debated the merits of legalizing recreational marijuana on Monday, then voted to advance the bill out of committee.

Dianna Houenou of the New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union was one of those testifying before the joint committee. She wants the lawmakers to make sure racial and social justice are incorporated into the final bill because of the current inequities.  

"Blacks are arrested at a rate three times higher than whites for cannabis possession. The ACLU has found out that in 2013, in Millville down in South Jersey, Latinos were arrested six times higher than whites," she said. 

Houenou also says she would like to see prior arrests for marijuana possession erased from someone's record.

RELATED: When will recreational marijuana be legal in New Jersey? Sooner than later

"Having just a single arrest for cannabis possession has significant collateral consequences for individuals and their families," she said. "People can lose their jobs, they can lose their housing. If you're a student you can lose your financial aid, if you're an immigrant you can be deported."

Governor Phil Murphy says he's glad this legislation is moving ahead. 

"We want to take the business out of the hands of the bad guys. We want to protect our kids. We want to regulate it in the right way, and if we can do all that and make a few bucks, that's conceptually something I'm for," he said. 

The proposal would legalize an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over, and set up a 12 percent tax.