New Jersey gov. open to ‘sweeping pardons’ for cannabis crimes

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is open to reducing or eliminating sentences for low-level cannabis crimes, telling NorthJersey.com that his main motivation behind legalizing cannabis is not to raise revenues but to correct the social justice problem.

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Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany under President Barack Obama, said he would be open to, and is considering, “sweeping pardons.” He added that he is looking for a cannabis legalization law that is “airtight and comprehensive.”

Some Democratic lawmakers cool on Murphy’s reform plans. State Sen. Ron Rice, a former police officer who has co-sponsored a cannabis decriminalization measure, argues that “social justice is just secondary.”

“They want to move on money. It’s about taxes, They don’t care who they harm in the process.” – Rice to North Jersey

Assemblywoman Anette Quijano, who has sponsored a bill to expedite the expungement process after cannabis is legalized, said she would prefer the Legislature take up the issue rather than allow the governor to enact broad reforms through executive order.

“I am never a fan of transferring the power of the Legislature. I think [her bill] gets a fair hearing in the Legislature.” – Quijano to North Jersey

New Jersey ranked third in the nation in total cannabis arrests in 2016 during which 35,700 people were arrested for cannabis possession or distribution.

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