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Jersey City becomes first city in NJ to decriminalize marijuana

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JERSEY CITY -

Jersey City has become the first city in the state to decriminalize marijuana possession.

Jersey City Municipal Prosecutor Jake Hudnut says that his office has now downgraded marijuana possession to a local ordinance violation and not a crime. This means that a person possessing the substance is subject to a fine or community service, and not a criminal investigation. The charge may even be dropped outright.

MORE: Extended interview

“If it doesn’t seem like this person needs a conviction or any kind on their record, be it an ordinance or a misdemeanor, then we’re just going to dismiss it,” Hudnut says.

Hudnut says that he wants his prosecutors to look at the entire individual and the entire facts of the arrest. He says that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Minor offenses on a person's criminal record can affect employment, loans and immigration status.

Many Jersey City residents say that they are in favor of the decision.

“I love the idea. Been smoking marijuana for six years. It is a tremendous pathway for people to heal themselves,” says Jersey City business owner Jason Schroeder.

“It's a benign thing to do. Certainly no worse than drinking and probably better,” Jersey City resident Ann Harwood says.

But those who oppose decriminalization says that easing marijuana laws could lead to the use of harder drugs.

Hudnut says that the chances to the laws do not apply to those who are accused of driving under the influence.

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