For many of us, the fight to end cannabis prohibition is a passion project based on the principles of justice and freedom. But we must remember – it’s not just abstract concepts we’re fighting for. It’s real people.
In a renewed and energized push to end prohibition in New Jersey, Senator Nick Scutari (D) and Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley (D) launched a campaign to focus on the injustice of arresting more than 34,000 people every year for simple cannabis possession — or 94 people every day — here in New Jersey.
Joining Sen. Scutari and Asm. Holley were:
Additional participants in the speaking program included Reverend Stephen A. Green of Heard AME Chruch in Roselle, Roundtable Wellness founder Bershan Shaw, and Cindy Oritz, the founder of Bloom Wellness. Shaw and Ortiz are both breast cancer survivors now working in the cannabis space. All stressed the injustice of today’s current cannabis laws.
Sen. Scutari stated, “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 this year. The arguments to push it back more than a year simply do not hold water and the residents of New Jersey deserve better.”
Asm. Holley added, “We in New Jersey continue to punish thousands of individuals for doing something that we allow corporations to do without punishment. More often than not, those individuals being punished look just like me. This injustice must stop, and it must stop now. Any delays will continue to keep an unjust law on the books and deny tens of thousands the justice they deserve. 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.”
Real people are affected every single day the New Jersey legislature does not take action to legalize cannabis. More than 22,000 people have been arrested for simple cannabis possession since the Legislature did not act back in March of this year.
That’s why we – along with so many other cannabis, policy, and social justice organizations — came together in Trenton to say: 94 No More.
We call for the end of cannabis prohibition in New Jersey before the end of 2019.
At a press conference held in Trenton Nov. 18th, 2019, all these individuals and groups with separate missions and messages came together on a united front to say: we need to stop the arrests for simple cannabis possession, now.
In New Jersey, people are arrested daily for cannabis possession, which is legal in 11 other states throughout the nation. We have the third-highest arrest rates in the U.S., after Texas and New York. That is not a record to be proud of. These arrests ruin lives and cost taxpayers more than $145 million each year. That is a waste of precious resources that does nothing but harm.
Enforcement of our antiquated prohibition era laws continues to devastate communities of color. African Americans are at last three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession, despite using cannabis at the same rate as white residents. This is for simply possessing something that’s already legal in many states, and something that’s safer than alcohol and many medications.
Today, two-thirds of the country has legalized cannabis for medicinal, adult-use or both. And, according to two recent polls from Pew Research and Gallup, two-thirds of American adults believe cannabis should be legal. Continuing to arrest otherwise law-abiding citizens is not just wasteful — it’s immoral.
We hope you will join us in the 94 No More campaign to demand justice for our fellow New Jersey residents. Please share the 94 No More campaign with your friends, family members, and colleagues. Use the hashtag #94NoMore when posting on social media. Together, we can put pressure on the anti-legalization forces that allow unjust and unequal enforcement of senseless prohibition-era laws to continue unabated.