Pubdate: Sun, 06 Apr 2014
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2014 Newark Morning Ledger Co
Note: Times of Trenton Editorial Board ,The Star-Ledger


Acknowledging that laws against marijuana use are about as effective
as those employed during Prohibition, the New Jersey State Municipal
Prosecutors Association has overwhelmingly recommended legalizing pot.

While it's advocacy you would expect from NJ Weedman, it's a stunning
stance for the very people who prosecute pot users. That official
endorsement signifies that legalizing pot for recreational use in the
Garden State is much more than a pipe dream.

The prosecutors favor legalization because of the damage a marijuana
possession conviction has on a person's reputation, says Jon-Henry
Barr, the association president.

And, indeed, convictions for even a small amount of marijuana have
haunted youthful users well into adulthood, making it more difficult
to get a job or buy a home. Civil penalties can mean the loss of
parental rights, employment or driver's license.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of New Jersey's marijuana laws is
their unfair application. Even though usage rates are comparable,
blacks are about three times more likely to be arrested on charges of
possession than whites.

As legalization would bring in much-needed revenue for New Jersey, it
would end the senseless expenditure of time and money on fighting pot
use when those law enforcement resources could be devoted to battling
real problems and real criminals.

Consider this: More than 22,000 individuals were arrested for
marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010, at a cost of more than
$125 million.

The vote of the association's board of trustees coincides with several
legislative measures with the same aim.

A bill introduced by Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) would legalize
the sale, purchase and cultivation of marijuana by adults 21 and older
under a system he says would be strictly regulated by the Division of
Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Another, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), calls
for letting voters decide whether to legalize an ounce or less.

Such legislation has no chance of becoming law while Gov. Chris
Christie is in office. But even if he decides to run for president in
2016 and leave at the end of his term, it's not too soon to begin the
conversation about legalizing marijuana here.

Sixteen states have decriminalized or legalized pot for non-medical
use, while eight more are headed toward some kind of

Just last year, it seemed impossible that gay couples would be able to
wed in New Jersey.

But things can change quickly - especially when a law-and-order group
such as the prosecutors association says it's time for that change.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D