With the withdrawal of the marijuana legalization vote in Trenton, advocates from the ACLU-NJ and allies redoubled their efforts to pass a marijuana legalization bill that places racial and social justice at the fore.

"With each day without legalization, we grow more committed to ending prohibition. We will get it done," said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. "As legalization comes closer within reach, every stride forward in the Legislature only demonstrates the urgency of ending the harms of prohibition now. We will stand even stronger, knowing that the lives of 30,000 people arrested each year for marijuana possession hang in the balance."

The ACLU-NJ, along with its partners in the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform coalition, have worked toward a legalization plan that puts racial and social justice at the fore.

The bill before the Legislature includes forward-thinking measures that endeavor to reverse the injustices wrought by the drug war:

  • An expedited expungement process
  • Non-discrimination policies based on cannabis use
  • Opportunities for those with criminal records to work in the industry
  • Requirement of at least one social justice representative on the marijuana regulatory commission
  • Provisions for diversity in the industry

"The fact that the margins were a hair too thin for the vote to go forward is a disappointment, but that should not be the takeaway for today. We're closer than ever before to passing the most socially and racially conscious legalization plan in the country, and today was one further step toward that ultimate goal," Sinha said. "Legalization is an urgent civil rights issue of our era, and it's up to advocates in the coming weeks and month to make that urgency clear."