NJ's 24,689 arrests prompts renewed call from NJ United for Marijuana Reform for legalization

In light of news that New Jersey had its second-highest year for number of marijuana possession arrests in its history in 2014, New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform renewed its call for the New Jersey Legislature to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults aged 21 and older.

The New Jersey Attorney General's Office on April 29 released its 2014 uniform crime statistics, which included the number of marijuana possession arrests: 24,689.

"When I look at the nearly 25,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2014, I see nearly 25,000 missed opportunities for law enforcement to have done work that actually keeps people safe," said NJUMR steering committee member and Clark Municipal Prosecutor J.H. Barr, secretary and former president of the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association. "Instead, law enforcement spends enormous resources to arrest and try people for using a drug that a majority of people believe should be legal. It's time for common sense on marijuana policy, and that means legalization and regulation in New Jersey."

Police made more arrests for marijuana possession in 2014 than for any other crime that year. Of all drug possession arrests made in 2014 statewide, more than half were for possession of marijuana. The number of marijuana possession arrests in New Jersey in 2014 was the state's second-highest of any year on record. In 2013, police made 76 more marijuana possession arrests than 2014.

"Reform of marijuana laws is one of the most urgent civil rights issues of our time," said NAACP New Jersey State Conference President Richard Smith. "Black New Jerseyans are almost three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than Whites in the Garden State. That wide disparity in marijuana enforcement makes Blacks that much more likely to have their homes, their families, and their jobs put in jeopardy for a low-level offense that shouldn't be considered a crime to begin with."

Legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the state annually, based on conservative estimates and the experiences of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State, which have legalized marijuana along with Washington, D.C., which has not yet implemented a legal marketplace.

"Every single day the Legislature refuses to advance legalization, people have their lives destroyed for using a substance that every president in the last 24 years has admitted to using. Where are our politicians hiding?" said ACLU-NJ Public Policy Director Ari Rosmarin. "Behind every one of the 24,689 arrests in 2014 is a person whose life has been interrupted and often damaged from the consequences our criminal justice system imposes for a marijuana arrest. It's not often that the Legislature has an opportunity to improve people's lives, raise hundreds of millions of dollars in state revenue, and end a civil rights injustice all in one vote, but that's exactly what marijuana legalization would mean."

New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, launched in February 2015, is a broad-based coalition with members from law enforcement, civil rights, and medical communities who advocate for the legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana in New Jersey. NJUMR's steering committee members include the ACLU of New Jersey, Former President and Current Secretary of the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association J.H. Barr, Archer & Greiner Of Counsel Bill Caruso, the Latino Action Network, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, Princeton-based psychiatrist and co-founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation Dr. David Nathan, and NORML NJ.

Examine the data firsthand at the NJ Attorney General's website, and join the campaign to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in New Jersey with NJUMR.