New Jersey voters are tired of locking people up over small amounts of small possession and use of small amounts of marijuana, according to a new poll by the Drug Policy Alliance.
Not that you need a poll to tell you that is the case.
Sixty-one percent of the 600 people polled would support a proposal making the penalty for possession of two ounces or less a civil offense punishable at most by a fine.
Researchers say the poll is significant because the approval crosses a wide range of political, racial and social boundaries. Nearly 82 percent said they would be likely to vote for a political candidate who favors decriminalization, or that it wouldn’t make a difference in their vote at all.
The poll also showed that decriminalization might be too small of a step to take for the Garden State. Around 59 percent say they would be in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana.
“New Jersey voters are ready for aggressive and immediate change of state marijuana laws, with strong majorities supporting decriminalizing up to two ounces of marijuana,” said researcher Daniel Gotoff in a press release. “Support for this reform is remarkably broad, including majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans, as well as voters from every major region in the state.”
All of that is good news for (or at least an indication of support) for a bill pending in New Jersey that would decimalize up to two ounces of pot and make punishment on par with a traffic ticket. Drug Policy Alliance officials tout the new poll results as a mandate to elected officials.
More than 22,000 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010 at a cost of more than $125 million dollars,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, in a press release. “New Jerseyans understand that current penalties for marijuana are unfair and wasteful. These laws should be changed now. ”
Currently, possession of fifty grams or less is a misdemeanor that can get you six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. More than 50 grams is a felony, with up to a year in jail and $25,000 in fines. Cultivation of ten plants or less is a felony with a mandatory minimum of three years in jail and $25,000 in fines. Paraphernalia possession is a lesser penalty than a misdemeanor, but can still net you six months in jail and a grand in fines.