Daily Archives: January 24, 2010

Hundreds in New Brunswick sign petition to change local marijuana law

Press Release
January 23, 2010

Evan Nison

(New Brunswick, NJ, January 23, 2010) — Volunteers from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, New Jersey State Chapter (NORML-NJ) have begun gathering signatures from New Brunswick voters for a ballot initiative that would make marijuana arrests for personal use by adults the lowest law enforcement priority in the city.

“Passage of this initiative would increase public safety by freeing up local police resources to focus on serious issues and at the same time save taxpayer money by reducing arrests for a law that frankly, most Americans feel is unjust and more harmful to people than the drug itself.” said Evan Nison, Ballot Initiatives Coordinator for NORML-NJ.

While marijuana possession and use would remain illegal, it is hoped that a successful ballot initiative will result in a significantly reduced number of arrests for simple marijuana possession within the City of New Brunswick. Aggressively arresting and prosecuting citizens in New Brunswick for simple marijuana possession offenses costs taxpayers dearly and squanders precious New Brunswick police resources, which many feel would be much better spent on preventing and prosecuting serious and violent crime.

Almost half of the US population admits to having tried marijuana and decades of aggressive arresting and expensive prosecution for personal marijuana possession by adults has utterly failed to lower or even affect the prevalence of marijuana use in any way. Subsequently, there is growing discontent by taxpayers regarding the continued irresponsible use of tax revenue on ineffectual marijuana policies.

“As a society facing one of the harshest recessions in almost a century we can no longer afford to indiscriminately waste tremendous amounts of tax dollars and police resources on outdated, misguided and irrational marijuana policies which clearly do not work,” says Frederic DiMaria, Jr., Esq., a practicing criminal attorney and Chairman of NORML-NJ.

Last year nearly 30,000 people in New Jersey were arrested for marijuana possession, costing taxpayers an estimated $3,000 to $10,000 per case. The criminal penalties in New Jersey, widely regarded as some of the nation’s harshest, can include up to six months in jail, severe fines and lengthy suspension of driving privileges even if no motor vehicle was involved in the crime. Conviction on a marijuana offense will also result in a criminal record reflecting a drug crime and can pose great difficulties in finding a job and accessing student financial aid. The latter is of obvious concern to college students, a substantial segment of the population of New Brunswick.

Matt Brockbank, a Rutgers student in New Brunswick helping to coordinate the local effort, said, “People need to look at the fact that alcohol causes significantly more harm on both the user and society than marijuana ever has. It’s time we rethink marijuana prohibition.”

Seattle, Washington, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Santa Cruz, California are among over 30 cities nationwide that have successfully adopted similar “Low-Priority” ordinances. Seattle’s policy resulted in a 75% reduction in simple marijuana possession arrests after just 2 years and has been hailed as a huge success. The New Brunswick initiative would be the first of its kind in New Jersey.

NORML-NJ is a statewide organization working to end marijuana prohibition, stop arrests of consumers and provide educational research and legal information on alternatives to marijuana prohibition.

To schedule an interview contact Evan Nison via email at evan@normlnj.org.

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Filed under Marijuana laws, New Brunswick NJ, Norml-NJ, press release