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Assemblywoman: Decriminalizing Marijuana Sends the Wrong Message

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Republican Monmouth County Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini thinks the debate to decriminalize marijuana should land on the side of current law.

A bill introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) in May and passed by the Assembly on Monday, calls for the decriminalization of the possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana, imposes civil penalties and establishes a fund for drug education.

The bill takes possession of marijuana, 15 grams or less, from a criminal offense to an offense carrying a civil fine. The bill states that there would be a $150 fine for a first violation, a $200 fine for a second violation, and a $500 fine for a third or subsequent violation, except in cases of "extreme financial hardship."

Bill A-1465 also states that "a person who possesses drug paraphernalia for the personal use of 15 grams or less of marijuana would not be guilty of a criminal violation but instead would be subject to a $100 civil penalty."

Angelini said in a news release that decriminalizing marijuana would send the wrong message to children in New Jersey.

“When Governor Corzine and this Legislature approved a medical marijuana law in 2010, I said it was the first step toward legalizing marijuana. I did not know the next leap would happen this quickly," Angelini said.

Monmouth County Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande are on board with the bill, as co-sponsors.

But Angelini said it is a step in the wrong direction. 

“Two years ago, the message to children was that marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, can be medicine for some. Today, the Assembly expanded upon that message, saying it’s OK to smoke it," she said.

Angelini runs Prevention First in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, an anti-drug education program.

A separate bill, introduced to the Senate by Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union) just days after the Assembly bill in May, calls for the decriminilization of the possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana. No amendments or floor discussions have been publicized for that bill yet.

Adam June 28, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Amen brother. Christie is a hypocrite simply following his own agenda. The owners of the state and of the country couldn't care less about what the majority want.
Adam June 28, 2012 at 12:07 PM
That's why it will never be fully legalized. The owners of this country would lose out on too much money. Of course they'll ban something that negates the need for the pharmacy. Also you can grow weed in your house. Of course they don't want that. Too much money at stake. Once the owners milk this country completely dry, they'll throw us a bone and let us have our weed. They won't have a need to keep it illegal anymore.
PhilDeBowl June 28, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Lew you are just plain wrong about MerryWanna. As pointed out already by others MJ use by teens does not go up in medMJ states. As far as the roads being more of a hazard with legalized MerryWanna, show me the research that proves your claim. As a 67 year old driver,father of 3 grandfather of 5 I say legalize MerryWanna,I want my children to be able to choose the safer alternative to alcohol or tobacco. Also,I don't believe in lying to my children.
John B Taxpayer June 29, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Very Progressive representative of NJ ! Marijuanna and GUN Laws are archaeic we have some of the Greatest Dinosaurs ever discovered and its called the NJ STATE Legislature. I never saw a person high on pot start a fight but plenty of alcohol ruled ones (Think Lighthouse in Waretown) You can bet your ass this Broad has smoked pot! just sayin'
John B Taxpayer June 29, 2012 at 11:07 AM
If they can't make a buck off of it, nothing changes keep voting for these useless incumbents!

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