A coalition of civil rights and drug policy reform groups in the state of New Jersey—including ACLU of New Jersey and NAACP New Jersey State Conference—has called upon Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to systematically pardon those with prior cannabis convictions to supplement New Jersey voter’s decision to legalize cannabis in November.
Although legislation arrived on the governor’s desk last week from lawmaker in the state, the unified organizations say that the proposed measures do not go far enough in seeking justice for those most affected by the war on cannabis.
In a letter shared exclusively with Marijuana Moment, the organizations suggested a step-by-step process the governor could take beginning this month and continuing through September 2021. The first round of pardons are called for:
The letter went on to state that with the move from full criminalization to full legalization, much work remains to be done in mitigating the damage of “harsh penalties and overzealous enforcement.” The organizations deemed it inexcusable that individuals are in jail, prison, or on parole solely due to cannabis offenses, and deserve total clemency going forward.
While legislation current set forth for review by Gov. Murphy attempts to reduce and pardon New Jersey cannabis offenses, advocate groups argue that it is too limited in which charges it covers and that the provisions will take place too slowly—near the end of 2021. The groups are pushing to ensure that those dealing with marijuana-related punishments won’t have to wait, and can “begin getting on with their lives now.”
Some notable organizations that signed the letter were: