TRENTON, NJ — Two separate pieces of legislation that seek to significantly reduce marijuana possession penalties in New Jersey await action this 2013 legislative session.
Assembly Bill 1465, which reduces penalties for the adult possession of up to 15 grams or less of marijuana to a fine-only, non-criminal violation was approved last year by the State Assembly and awaits action by the Senate.
Separate Senate Legislation, Senate Bill 1977, to decriminalize up to 50 grams of marijuana also remains pending.
Under present state law, the possessing of up to 50 grams marijuana is punishable by up to 6 months incarceration, a $1,000 fine, and a criminal record.
According to survey data compiled in 2011 by Rutgers University, a majority of New Jersey voters support reforming the state’s criminal marijuana laws. Pollsters found that 6 out of 10 voters favored removing criminal penalties for first-time marijuana possession offenders and replacing them with the imposition of a civil fine.
Just over half thought there should be no penalties at all.
Additional information on this year’s legislative effort is available from New Jersey NORML.