New Jersey Cannabis Decriminalization Bill Stalls in Assembly After Receiving Senate Approval

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A cannabis decriminalization bill has stalled in the New Jersey Assembly after the Senate added an amendment that would lessen the penalty for the possession of up to one ounce of psilocybin, or psychedelic mushrooms, according to an NJ.com report.

The Senate approved the measure Nov. 16 in a 29-4 vote, but the Assembly canceled a vote on the bill, A.1897/S.2535, due to the added provision that would make possessing up to one ounce of psilocybin a disorderly person offense punishable by a six-month jail sentence, the news outlet reported. Under current law, the offense carries a prison sentence of three to five years.

“The Senate took an extraordinarily important step today by passing decriminalization, but, unfortunately, the Assembly’s decision to pull its scheduled vote means marijuana arrests—and all of the harmful, tragic consequences of racially disparate enforcement they come with—will continue until consensus can be reached,” ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo said in a public statement.

Lawmakers are working to establish an adult-use cannabis program in the state after voters approved a legalization initiative on Election Day. They must pass a decriminalization measure to stop cannabis-related arrests as they work on separate legislation to regulate adult-use sales.

Lawmakers have pulled an adult-use bill amid criticism from social justice advocates, who said the legislation does not go far enough to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Advocates also criticized the legislation for not designating cannabis tax revenue for programs in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, NJ.com reported.

The postponed hearings on the legislation have not been rescheduled, according to the news outlet.

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