Cannabis policy is “starting to see a lot of movement,” Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies for Marijuana Policy Project, said of the past week or two. “A lot of movement in a short amount of time.” Cannabis is an essential part of police reform, O’Keefe said. Black Americans are disproportionately arrested for low-level cannabis offenses. Even minor convictions can impact employment, housing and education options.
“Police make a marijuana possession arrests in New Jersey every 22 minutes,” said DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel with the Marijuana Policy Project. “This means that unless the Legislature enacts decriminalization between now and Election Day, thousands of New Jerseyans will have their lives turned upside down by cannabis possession arrests …This bill is of urgent importance because we’ve seen the cannabis justification used repeatedly in civil rights tragedies throughout the nation.”
“This was the most innovative signature drive I’ve ever seen,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the Marijuana Policy Project, which helped coordinate the effort, told Marijuana Moment. “The campaign used mailings, online ads, phone calls, and texting. Signature gatherers travelled all across the state collecting signatures every day while strictly adhering to internal health protocols.”
For what it’s worth, Meadows can’t plead ignorance on cannabis issues, Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy told Marijuana Moment. “There’s no way he’s unaware. There’s just no way. I have talked to Mark Meadows dozens of times about this issue. We have had real conversations,” Murphy said. “I can’t imagine that he doesn’t know. Meadows has been around long enough to know that the president does what the president does.”
“Cannabis is used as a pretext for thousands of police stops that happen daily in communities of color,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “Removing cannabis as a justification for police interaction is a reform urgently needed to address systemic racism and abusive policing.”
“New Jersey is being really progressive in starting this conversation,” said DeVaughn Ward of the Marijuana Policy Project. “At two ounces, it would still be progress for the region. The reality is that for every increase is another life that could potentially be saved; somebody that could not be forced to encounter law enforcement.”
“It’s been busy!” Jared Moffat, campaigns coordinator with the Marijuana Policy Project working with Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, told Cannabis Wire regarding the revamped campaign. “We’ve been directing all circulators to follow safety measures (e.g. distancing, hand sanitizer, face covering, etc) to keep people safe. It seems the momentum has picked back up, though.”
DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative council for the Marijuana Policy Project, said on average, police in New Jersey arrest someone on marijuana charges once every 22 minutes. “This means that unless the Legislature enacts decriminalization between now and Election Day, thousands of New Jerseyans will have their lives turned upside-down by cannabis possession arrests,” Ward said.