Pot legalization opponents: Decriminalize, don’t legalize

Posted: Updated:
TRENTON -

A bipartisan group of New Jersey lawmakers is urging caution on marijuana legalization and instead introduced legislation decriminalizing small amounts of the drug.

Democratic state senators Ronald Rice and Joseph Cryan, along with Republican Sen. Robert Singer, unveiled the legislation at a statehouse news conference Thursday.

“Someone said [legalizing marijuana] will be good for tourism. Shame on us,” says Sen. Singer.

RELATED: Marijuana legalization summit held in Princeton

Under the bill, residents could possess up to 10 grams or less of marijuana. The measure also eliminates penalties for being under the influence of marijuana. The bill would also impose civil penalties as low as $150 for a first offense.

The sponsors want to reduce the number of people who face criminal prosecution over small amounts of the drug. Rice cast the measure as a civil rights concern.

Scott Rudder, the president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, supports full recreational legalization. He says the bill would unintentionally prop up the black market and help illegal drug dealers.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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