TRENTON – The marijuana decriminalization bill that was scheduled to be heard at today’s Assembly session is being tabled, officials confirmed.
The bill, A1465, sponsored by no less than 15 lawmakers, would decriminalize possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana, making it just a civil penalty.
A person with 15 grams or less of marijuana would be fined $150 for a first violation, a $200 fine for a second violation, and a $500 fine for a third or subsequent violation
Tom Hester, spokesman for Assembly Democrats, said plans are to put two amendments in the bill. They include:
*to divert the first $50 received from the civil penalties to drug education programs. The current bill calls for the entire penalty to go to the town. Assemblywomen Holly Schepisi and Connie Wagner suggested this at Monday’s Assembly Judiciary Committee, where the bill was released unanimously.
*To permit a judge to divert an offender, upon his/her third offense, to mandatory drug program.
The bill received tremendous support substance abuse treatment groups, law enforcement officials, even pastors. However, opponents of the bill said it could send a mixed message to youth that smoking even a small amount of mary jane is OK.