There have been many states that have considered changing the way that they handle drug charges connected to marijuana. In some locations, recreational use of the drug has been legalized. While New Jersey currently allows the medicinal use of marijuana, it still treats the unlawful possession of the drug as a crime.
A recent poll of voters throughout the state by the Drug Policy Alliance showed that the majority of residents surveyed supported changing the way that New Jersey deals with these types of drug crimes. Over 60 percent of the 600 individuals questioned stated that those caught with small amounts of the drug should be fined, but not have to serve any jail time.
In New Jersey, there are harsh penalties in place for anyone convicted of marijuana possession. This can include a fine and a potential six-month jail sentence, with penalties increasing for larger quantities and repeat offenses. Legislators have proposed many bills attempting to reduce these penalties for possession of small amounts of the drug for personal use, but they have not received the support necessary to pass. Governor Chris Christie has stated that he opposes marijuana legalization efforts.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, reforms to the marijuana laws are necessary to reduce the amount of resources that the state spends on these crimes. In 2010, the organization reported that there were more than 22,000 people arrested for marijuana crimes, costing the state more than $125 million. The group feels that these resources could be spent in a much more beneficial way.
Those who have been charged with a drug crime need to understand that these are serious accusations. They should discuss their case with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about the defenses that may be available in their situation.
Source: NJ.com, "NJ voters: Pot possession should not be a crime, poll says," Susan K. Livio, June 11, 2013.