On Nov. 18, 2019, in Trenton, numerous advocacy groups and elected officials joined together to launch the “94 No More” campaign. The campaign, coming as efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis intensify in the Legislature, will highlight the over 34,000 people arrested in New Jersey each year simply for possessing cannabis. That equates to 94 people a day who are being arrested for something that is legal in 11 other states and, through medical cannabis, legal in New Jersey.
Taking part in today’s announcement were Senator Nicholas Scutari, Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA), the American Civil Liberties Union of NJ (ACLU-NJ), New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152, the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.
“The myths around cannabis have been debunked. We know it is not a gateway drug. We know it helps prevent people from becoming addicted to opioids. So now, what we are left with is locking up 94 of our fellow New Jerseyans each day for no legitimate reason. This injustice must end and we can do that now by ending cannabis prohibition. The residents of New Jersey deserve better,” said Senator Scutari.
“We in New Jersey continue to punish thousands of individuals for doing something that we allow corporations to do without punishment,” said Assemblyman Holley. “More often than not, those individuals being punished look just like me. This injustice has to stop. We will keep working day and night to prevent 94 people a day in this state from having their lives permanently damaged for no good reason.”
Additional participants in the speaking program included Reverend Stephen A. Green of Heard AME Chruch in Roselle, Bershan Shaw, the founder of Roundtable Wellness, and Cindy Oritz, the founder of Bloom Wellness. Shaw and Ortiz are both breast cancer survivors now working in the cannabis space and stressed the injustice of today’s current cannabis laws.
The consequences for possession and/or use of cannabis are dire for those unlucky enough to be caught. This is especially true for communities of color. African Americans are three-four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession, despite using cannabis at the same rate as whites. Moreover, charging people with cannabis possession costs New Jersey taxpayers approximately $130 million a year.
“Every day we delay further is a day where the lives of 94 people are ruined, possibly forever,” said Scott Rudder, President of the NJCBA. “We cannot continue to punish people for doing what nearly a quarter of the country – and counting – has already said should be perfectly legal to do. Through this campaign and the continued efforts of all advocates, we will continue to push for legalization as soon as possible.”
The campaign will utilize the hashtag #94NoMore and will feature advocates highlighting the social justice reforms that come with legalization. This advocacy will be done through a variety of means, including public events. “94 No More” will have an active and highly visible presence at this week’s League of Municipalities Annual Conference.