The New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus held a hearing on cannabis legalization in the state, facilitated by NJ Senator Ron Rice, who recently offered a decriminalization bill in lieu of legalization.
Numerous individuals from New Jersey and other states gave testimony for and against cannabis legalization. A wide range of voices were heard from parents, politicians, physicians, and attorneys to mental health professionals and recovering addicts.
Much of the conversation focused on the disparities of minorities arrested for cannabis, whether cannabis fights or fuels the opioid crisis, and if marijuana is a gateway drug or not.
Additionally, community issues such as odors from usage and grow operations, the sight of dispensaries in the communities, lessening incarceration rates and reductions of drug overdoses and the increased revenue municipalities will receive.
Over the 3-hour cannabis hearing, many comments and statements were made from every imaginable angle of the debate over legalization, hearing from both sides of the issue. However, there was definitely a stronger anti-cannabis presence than a pro-cannabis presence.
Senator Rice closed with some remarks including the following, “What we do know, is that there are a large number of newborns being born with brain damage in Colorado.” Senator Rice and another panelist also expressed a great deal of concern of drug testing and the impact on the workplace. They both indicated that drug testing will not foster job growth since users will fail drug tests.
Leaders and members from NJ Responsible Approaches To Marijuana Policy (RAMP) and Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM) were also prominent voices in opposition of legalization of cannabis.
Although no action is taken at this type of hearing, the testimony will be considered as bills are crafted and the debate on legalization in New Jersey continues to grow and gain traction.
At the conclusion of the event, advocates voiced concern over disinformation and propaganda being spread by the speakers at today’s event.
What Can I Do at a Cannabis Hearing?
Two additional cannabis hearings are scheduled on March 27 in Elizabeth and April 24 in Atlantic City. Come let your voice be heard. There is a need to hear from people who support cannabis legalization to share personal stories.