Pot decriminalization bill passes Assembly

TRENTON – A bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, fewer than 15 grams – A1465 – passed in the  Assembly 44-30-3.

Democrat and sponsor Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said he agrees with Gov. Christie that it is time to empty prisons of people imprisoned over small amounts of drugs and supplant punishment with treatment and education.

Christie, however, has said he will veto this bill and is not in favor of complete decriminalization of marijuana.

Gusciora said the state in prosecution of a person in possession of a joint or two, leads to a situation in that a criminal background check that reveals that offense would hurt job-seekers in a tough economy.

As for people who said this sends the wrong message, Gusciora said these offenders should not be treated as hardened criminals.

Assemblywoman Republican Pat Angelini said in opposition there is a good reason why marijuana is illegal and that this bill would send a mixed message to young people.