Lifelong Franklin resident, Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17 Middlesex/Somerset), chairman of the Assembly Oversight, Reform, and Federal Relations Committee is leading discussions regarding legalized marijuana in New Jersey. 

Danielsen’s committee heard testimony for several hours regarding the impact of expanding legalized marijuana Monday, March 5. Currently, in New Jersey only medical marijuana is legal.   

“We started as a blank slate, and the committee received a great education, but it’s just the beginning,” Danielsen said… “This is an important civil justice, health care, and law enforcement issue. We will hear all viewpoints and continue to get an education.”

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Monday’s committee hearing included testimony from lawyers, doctors, former law enforcement, medical marijuana patients, elected officials and other stakeholders. The impact of prospective marijuana legislation on public health, criminal justice system and the economy was discussed. 

The majority of the testimonies can be found by clicking here

Shaleen Title, an attorney and one of five members of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission warned against decriminalization and the disproportionate legal consequences minorities face concerning marijuana arrests.   

“After Massachusetts decriminalized marijuana in 2008 the number of arrests, of course, went down significantly, but racial disparity among those arrests have only increased,” Title said. Removing the penalties from marijuana without taking attentional steps towards social justice is a half measure, it is simply not enough.”    

Racial disparities in New Jersey marijuana arrests are at an all-time high, according to ACLU-NJ. In 2013, Black New Jerseyans were three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite similar usage rates, according to ACLU-NJ.

“In my district (17) the ACLU has reported that a black man is 15 times more likely to be arrested than the same user that is a white male,” Danielsen said. 

Retired DEA Supervisory Special

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