12/8/2011 – It seems that student government is ahead of the state legislature in New Jersey. Seventy-five percent of Rowan University student senators voted to support a state bill to reduce penalties for adults possessing cannabis.
The bill to decriminalize possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana, A4252, was introduced in Trenton this summer. A4252 came out strong with eighteen bi-partisan co-sponsors in the Assembly, but a companion bill has not been introduced in the state Senate.
A4252 would make possession an “infraction” instead of a “misdemeanor” and create a tiered set of fines for those over the age of 21 ranging from $150-$500. Those under 21 would also need to attend an education class.
The Rowan University Student Government is the first in the state to formally support the bill. The final vote among the student senators was 70 in favor, 20 against and 2 abstentions
There are over 26,000 arrests every year in New Jersey for marijuana, about 85% of those arrests are for possession of less than 50 grams.
New York State decriminalized marijuana possession in 1979 and Connecticut passed a decrim law earlier this year. There are 14 states that have reduced penalties for adults possesing cannabis. NORML Decrim map
The Rowan senators can count on public support as well. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll on November 30, 2011 found that 58% of New Jersey residents favor decriminalizing marijuana for adults.
Rowan student senator Phillip Simmons, who is also president of the campus chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), said, “I am happy that the Rowan Senate voted in favor of this bill because it means that the student body recognizes the unfair, unjust, and crippling effects of the current law.”
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Chris Goldstein is a respected marijuana reform advocate. As a writer and radio broadcaster he has been covering cannabis news for over a decade. Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org