Supporters and opponents of marijuana legalization can agree on one point: minority communities have been discriminated against by laws that prohibit marijuana. The question is what should be done. State legislators and advocates of legalization say the solution is to expunge criminal records. But that would flood the system with thousands of petitioners and if the state is unprepared, could do more harm than good.
At Mt. Teman A.M.E. Church in Elizabeth, Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex) and members of the Black Legislative Caucus gathered supporters and detractors of marijuana legalization as well as members of the community to speak about their concerns and desires for the future.
The four-hour hearing, as Rice called it, featured impassioned comments on both sides of the issue, but with an undercurrent from all speakers that the War on Drugs has negatively impacted New Jersey. Speakers from both sides argued if any marijuana reform legislation is to land on Gov. Murphy’s desk, it needs to address the outsized impact cannabis policies have had on black and brown communities.
“I think we can start with