New Jersey legislators hold hearing on marijuana legalization

Advocates for marijuana legalization urged New Jersey legislators to reverse decades of prohibition Monday, testifying that legalization will bring regulation to an underground industry, boost tax revenue and help end racial disparity within the criminal justice system.

Each of the 10 panelists who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee supported the legalization of marijuana, a policy shift enacted by four states and gaining traction elsewhere across the country.

Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari is backing a bill that could make New Jersey the fifth state to legalize marijuana, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. But he acknowledged passing such a law will be a long process.

"Members of the committee needed to hear this information and have an opportunity to question the testifiers on the statistics," Scutari said afterward. "I could see that a lot of them were astounded by the statistics. Many of them remain open minded to legalization, there's...

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