Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) on Wednesday said that New Jersey should take steps to legalize medical marijuana for those who need it.
In a series of messages posted to his Twitter account, Booker called the U.S. drug policy a “national nightmare” but stopped short of calling for complete legalization.
“Drug war is a failure costing billions of tax dollars annually AND destroying lives, plus it has a glaring racial component,” the mayor wrote. “In NJ blacks are about 15% of population but over 60% of prison population and DRUGS fuels much of the incarceration.”
“So yes we need to radically change the conversation from INCARCERATION to what will really end this national nightmare.”
The New Jersey Legislature’s Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would decriminalize less than half an ounce of marijuana. Under the measure, those caught with up to 35 marijuana cigarettes or drug paraphernalia could be fined between $100 and $500. Republican Gov. Chris Christie has refused to say whether he would sign the bill.
For his part, Booker does not agree with calls to “legalize it all period,” but believes the focus should be on treatment instead of incarceration.
“However, I’m with you on medical marijuana,” Booker added. “And NJ should do more to make it real for those who need it.”
The rate of addiction to marijuana is controversial, but the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that in 2009 that 18 percent of the nearly 2 million rehab patients it tracks were admitted for marijuana abuse. University of Cambridge professor of pharmacology Leslie L. Iverson determined that about only about 9 percent of marijuana users have serious addiction, compared with 32 percent of tobacco users and 15 percent of alcohol users.
A recent survey by the conservative polling organization Rasmussen Reports found that 56 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco.
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