Marijuana Reform in New Jersey

Unequal application of the law and other harms of marijuana prohibition affect millions of New Jerseyans every year. DPA led the campaign to pass legislation which created New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. We are currently working on the New Solutions Marijuana Reform Campaign to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults in New Jersey. 

New Jersey’s marijuana laws have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Marijuana legalization in New Jersey must be fair and equitable and must address past disproportionate harms to communities of color.

Join us to support marijuana reform in New Jersey.

Marijuana Legalization

New Jersey arrests more than 32,000 people a year for marijuana possession at a cost of more than $140 million to New Jersey taxpayers. This absurd and wasteful policy criminalizes otherwise law-abiding people and wastes resources that would be better spent on projects that support our families and communities.

Marijuana arrests and convictions can have severe long-term consequences, especially for communities of color that are disproportionately harmed by the impact of New Jersey’s marijuana laws. African Americans are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites even though both use marijuana at the same rates. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar disparities for Latinos. Marijuana laws have also been used to support biased policies like stop and frisk, racial profiling and the deportation of people of color. 

The solution is to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults. New Jersey should enact common sense and popular reform to create a responsible, safe and controlled system for marijuana.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana. These states have created new jobs and generated millions of dollars in tax revenues without negative consequences. By legalizing marijuana New Jersey can see similar results.

Benefits of Legalization

  • It will create new jobs.
  • Millions in tax revenue will fund projects to help all New Jersey residents.
  • Otherwise law-abiding people will no longer be labeled as criminals.
  • Racial disparities and harms will be reduced. 
  • Resources that are currently wasted on marijuana prohibition will be freed to use for projects that support our families and communities.

A broad coalition of faith leaders, civil rights and racial justice advocates and a majority of New Jerseyans support legalization. The time has come for New Jersey to legalize marijuana and align its laws with the values and opinions of its residents.

New Jersey’s marijuana laws have had a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Marijuana legalization in New Jersey must be fair and equitable and must address past disproportionate harms to communities of color.

As New Jersey considers legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, fairness and equity demand a system that provides a level playing field and addresses past harms. As demonstrated in our model billfair and equitable reform must include policies that encourage full participation in the industry by communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and must repair past harms.

Road to Legalization

In May 2017, Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union) and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) introduced Senate Bill 3195 and Assembly Bill 4872 which would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over in New Jersey. 

Drug Policy Alliance and the New Solutions Marijuana Reform Campaign have some concerns about the legislation and look forward to working with the sponsors to ensure that any legalization measure in New Jersey prioritizes racial and social justice elements and establishes a fair and equitable marijuana market in our state.

Featured Resources

Medical Marijuana Program

Each year thousands of New Jerseyans are diagnosed with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating illnesses. For some patients, currently available medications will not relieve their terrible symptoms. Medical marijuana could reduce suffering and improve the quality of life for these patients.

With the urging of DPA’s Compassionate Use Campaign coalition, in 2010 New Jersey passed legislation establishing a medical marijuana program in the state. The Compassionate Use Act allows seriously ill patients for whom currently available medications are not effective access to medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. There are currently five Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) in New Jersey where registered patients can access their medicine.

Read the patient stories that moved legislators to support medical marijuana.

Despite the success of the program, we know that many people in New Jersey still lack access to the medicine they need because of overly burdensome rules and a tightly regulated market.

DPA advocates to change onerous rules and regulations for patients, caregivers and doctors, to expand the number of ATCs in the state to ensure adequate patient access, and to expand the restrictive list of qualifying conditions for which patients can obtain medical marijuana.

In 2016, the Compassionate Use Campaign was successful in passing legislation to add PTSD to the list of qualifying conditions to obtain medical marijuana. Hundreds of individuals have signed up for the program as a result. DPA is currently working to add chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions through a petition filed with the Department of Health’s Medical Review Panel.

DPA also works to safeguard the rights of medical marijuana patients. In 2016, we successfully supported legislation to allow for medical marijuana patients to use their medicine in school. 

We are currently working to advance Senate Bill 2161/Assembly Bill 2482 that will protect medical marijuana patients from adverse employment actions and losing their jobs.

Stories from the Movement

Brad Wiltshire

Brad Wiltshire is a loving husband, father, and highly decorated 20-year veteran of the Ocean City Fire Department. He has dedicated his entire career to saving live and protecting his community, but now risks losing his job because he is using medical marijuana recommended by his doctor and approved by the State of New Jersey.

Read Brad's story to see why this employment legislation is so important.

Marijuana Legalization and Regulation