N.J. lawmaker wants to legalize small amounts of pot

    Gov. Chris Christie is delaying the start of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program until the federal government assures him it won’t prosecute the growers and workers who are involved with it.

    In the meantime, state Assemblyman Reed Gusciora has introduced legislation that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug.

    Possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana in the Garden State would not be a crime under terms of the bill sponsored by Gusciora who is also a municipal prosecutor.

    “Most people do get arrested for having one joint or similar amounts and it is a shame particularly in this economic climate when they try to get a job later on they have a criminal record,” he said.

    Chris Goldstein with the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws supports the bill.

    “With 28,000 marijuana arrests each year, we’re spending over $30 million just arresting marijuana smokers. That’s money right out of the public safety budget,” Goldstein said. “We could be keeping more cops on the street if we stopped busting pot smokers.”

    Gusciora said prosecuting those who have small amounts of marijuana takes up a lot of law-enforcement resources. He wants New Jersey to join New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, which have already enacted similar decriminalization laws.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.