The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) has released a platform of requirements the state’s new cannabis industry must put in place to meet a basic standard for justice. The Baseline Cannabis Justice Plan prioritizes meaningful public input in the community reinvestment process, how to create an inclusive and accessible industry, and how to share information with the public.
“Legalization was only the first step in undoing the harms and disparities of marijuana enforcement, and it can only succeed if we maintain our focus on equity and racial justice through the process of regulation and beyond,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo, speaking directly to one of the equity-focused funding distribution bullet points from the plan that reads “Making sure fees specifically go toward reinvestment in communities hit hardest by the drug war, and specifically do not go toward funding of law enforcement, which has been responsible for carrying out the drug war.”
ACLU-NJ Campaign Strategist Ami Kachalia commented, “Community members, advocates, and an overwhelming majority of the public advocated not only to legalize cannabis but to do so in a way that begins to repair past harms and builds an inclusive and equitable marketplace. We have a duty to make sure that we carry out the will of the voters and make New Jersey a fairer state by implementing justice in every step of legalization.” As we watch state after state grapple with the harmful ramifications of their past prohibitive and punitive policies, it’s promising to see such a solid foundation for change in New Jersey.
“New Jersey has a pivotal chance to make the real progress that so far has eluded many other states: using revenue with an eye toward justice, presenting real opportunities for people impacted by the drug war to thrive in the cannabis economy, and blanketing New Jersey with reliable information about the new industry,” said Fajardo. “Anything else is a disservice to the New Jerseyans who voted in historic numbers to legalize marijuana to advance racial and social justice”
New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission is due to adopt regulations for the new industry on Thursday, August 19th. Before decriminalization in New Jersey, “Black people were arrested for marijuana possession at a rate 3.45 times greater than that of white people, despite similar usage rates,” according to Cannabis Business Times.