In a historic milestone for racial justice and civil rights, following years of campaigning New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) and other advocacy and community partners, marijuana legalization and decriminalization are now officially law with Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature. In implementing the historic ballot initiative legalizing cannabis, supported by voters largely for reasons of racial and social justice, the laws put in place some of the most ambitious, forward-looking cannabis laws in the country.

The following statements are from NJUMR steering committee members on the signing of marijuana legalization and decriminalization:

Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey:
“With Governor Murphy’s signature, the decades-long practice of racist marijuana enforcement will begin to recede, in a shift that emphasizes the urgency of building the most equitable framework possible for cannabis legalization. Our state’s cannabis laws can set a new standard for what justice can look like, with the removal of criminal for possession and an unprecedented portion of revenue dedicated to addressing the harms wrought by the drug war. This is a new beginning – and the culmination of years of advocacy – and we must keep in mind that it is only the start. Signing these laws puts in motion the next phase of this effort: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalization into greater racial and social justice in New Jersey.”

Richard Smith, President, NAACP NJ State Conference:
“We applaud the Legislature and Governor Murphy for passing and signing cannabis legalization and decriminalization into law today. For decades, cannabis prohibition has been used to systematically criminalize Black people across the state. Today is a historic day in the fight against the drug war, and we will continue our fight for racial justice in cannabis legalization through the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.”

Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer, Founding Director of Salvation and Social Justice:
“This is a critical step towards our goal of community liberation. We want to eliminate the weaponization of cannabis which criminalizes and incarcerates Black communities across New Jersey. Today’s bill includes prevailing elements that will advance racial and economic equity – a testament to the hard work of advocates, community organizers, and faith leaders from across New Jersey,” said Reverend Dr. Charles Boyer, Founding Director of Salvation and Social Justice. “Our goal is to ensure that cannabis regulation is not an entry point to criminalize Black and Brown youth. Although we still have a long way to go before we can officially end the drug war and dismantle oppressive systems keeping our brothers and sisters down, we are on our way to create a more just and equitable state for everyone.”

Christian Estevez, President, Latino Action Network:
“It is a great day in New Jersey. We are happy and grateful that cannabis reform has been signed into by Governor Murphy.”
“We are eager to see the CRC come to fruition; the end of possession arrests; and the full participation of Hispanic businesspeople in the newly created marketplace,” he added. “We want to thank Senators Sweeney, Scutari, Ruiz, Singleton, Cruz-Perez, and Pou along with Speaker Coughlin and Assembly members Wimberly, Sumter, Holley, Quijano, Danielson, and Burzichelli for the hard work they did towards making this happen.”

David Nathan, Founder and Board President of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation:
“As a proud member of the NJUMR coalition, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation is grateful for all the hard work put in by lawmakers and fellow advocates to bring us to this historic moment in the advancement of public health and social justice in New Jersey. Now comes the hard work of helping the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to carry out its mandate to bring equity, diversity, and consumer protections to the nascent legal cannabis industry. With proper labeling and testing on the way, the legislation passed today will ensure that New Jersey cannabis consumers know what they’re getting when they purchase cannabis products.”

Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP):
“This is a historic moment for public safety in New Jersey. With marijuana sales occurring in regulated, age-restricted storefronts, police will be better able to focus on their communities’ public safety priorities and forge the relationships necessary for strong, safe neighborhoods.”
Jon-Henry Barr, Clark Township Municipal Prosecutor; Past President, NJ State Municipal Prosecutors Association (2008-2015):
“At long last, the governor of New Jersey is carrying out the will of his constituents. The headaches of needless arrests and court congestion can end, and we municipal prosecutors can focus our attention on offenses that constitute real crimes.

Bill Caruso, Partner at Archer, P.C.:
“I am proud of the collective work over the course of many years to get us to this point. It has been a long strange trip, but together, we have worked across racial, socio economic, cultural, religious, ideological and partisan boundaries to change the culture concerning cannabis in NJ. These efforts were validated this November here in NJ and across the country where cannabis won a resounding victory among a divided electorate. And, it is heartening to see our government leaders now answer that call. But, this is just the beginning and we look forward to working to forward this progress in the months and years to come. Congratulations New Jersey!”

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