"I am not a fan in general of the idea of legalization of marijuana" - NJ Governor Chris Christie
As a decriminalization bill makes its way through the New Jersey state legislature, Governor Chris Christie has said he opposes the legalization of cannabis. “"I am not a fan in general of the idea of legalization of marijuana," he said. But he also tried to sound neutral about the decriminalization bill.
"I'll have to see what the bill looks like if it gets to me," he said at a press conference. "I won't prejudge it."
Governor Christie’s position isn’t surprising since he has hopes of higher political office and doesn’t want to alienate his conservative base. But decriminalization and legalization are becoming increasingly popular, as evidenced by a series of recent polls. There will come a time when marijuana prohibition has no “base.”
Under the decriminalization bill, up to 15 grams of marijuana possession wouldn’t involve jail time, just a fine. The bill has 15 Democrat and 3 Republican sponsors in the legislature and cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee earlier this week.
An assembly vote on the bill was delayed so that a provision that directed a portion of the fines to drug education programs could be added.
One of the decriminalization bill’s sponsors - Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D) - said, "I am confident that with these amendments we will have a model decriminalization bill that realistically addresses persons charged with possession of marijuana. Unfortunately under current penalties, the punishment does not fit the crime."
Another provision that requires a judge to order a drug evaluation for three-time offenders may seem silly to some, but such are the compromises that are made on a political level to keep progress going.
Of course time will tell whether the bill will make it out of the legislature and to the Governor’s desk. Then it will be up to Chris Christie to decide.
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