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Jersey City is implementing a marijuana decriminalization policy that its mayor and new chief municipal prosecutor believe will increase racial justice while protecting public safety.
The policy, which is excepted to begin officially tomorrow, will downgrade some marijuana charges to non-criminal offenses; encourage prosecutors to seek dismissal of low-level marijuana charges; and recommend diverting defendants with a criminal past and signs of addiction to the city's community court.
City - Action - New - Jersey - Marijuana
The city's action comes as New Jersey is moving slowly toward approving recreational marijuana. Philadelphia decriminalized marijuana in 2014 and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced in May that he ordered police officers there to stop arresting people caught smoking pot.
Jersey City's move indicates that Jake Hudnut, who became chief municipal prosecutor on July 2, is taking an aggressive stance in his new role. Hudnut, 35, is a former criminal defense attorney who ran unsuccessfully for the Ward E council seat in November. During his council campaign, he often referred to the toll the criminal justice system takes on the city's communities of color, an argument he made again on Wednesday during an interview at City Hall.
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"What gives me pause is that despite similar cross-racial usage of marijuana, New Jerseyans of color are three times more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for marijuana than white New Jerseyans," Hudnut said. "I think prosecutors have an obligation to acknowledge this and fix this problem."
The change, outlined in a July 19 memo Hudnut sent to his assistant prosecutors, instructs them to amend five marijuana-related offenses — possession; possession while in a motor vehicle; being under the influence; use or possession...
(Excerpt) Read more at: NJ.com
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