Will New Jersey Decriminalize Weed?
And you thought nothing good comes out of New Jersey!
A little while ago, we got word from the Drug Policy Alliance that the New Jersey General Assembly will weigh weed-decriminalizing legislation Monday.
Assembly members will vote on bill 1465, which "would make possession of one-half ounce, or 15 grams, of marijuana a summary offense."
That means that in the eyes of the law, the penalty would be no more serious than a parking ticket -- a fine of $150 for a first violation, $200 for the second, and $500 for the third.
Right now, if you're caught in possession of up to this amount, you might have to pay as much as $1000 and possibly spend six months behind bars. In November, an poll showed that 58 percent of New Jerseyans want decreased penalties for pot use, with 55 percent wanting to eliminate of possession prohibition.
Fifteen other states -- including New York -- have already decriminalized small quantities of cannabis.
Remember that New Jersey was poised to vote on the proposal in May, but legislative action got delayed so that amendments could be added to the bill.
Those changes called for some of the fines' money to fund drug education efforts and require that repeat offenders undergo substance abuse counseling, according to The Associated Press. The bill has bipartisan backing. Contrast this with what's going down with weed in New York: Remember that earlier this week, State Senate Republicans killed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to further decriminalize marijuana.
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.