New Jersey students respond to recent marijuana bill

Photo courtesy of Phil Murphy, Flickr

After a 67% approving vote in November, New Jersey officially legalized marijuana on Feb. 22. The response has been varied despite its majority vote.

The Ramapo News asked students their thoughts via Instagram, and several perspectives were introduced. One student said they had not heard much about it since passed, and many surely feel the same way.

The newly passed law allows New Jersey residents older than 21 to possess marijuana, but it will also lead the way for regulated business, which is expected to be an economic booster in the state.

“I think it’s great,” said Ramapo student Kelly Brennan. “I hope it brings down property taxes a little because of how booming of a business it’s expected to be!”

Others are not quite as excited, because they feel the law has yet to address key factors of the social justice issues Gov. Phil Murphy so often says this will bolster. Gabriel Garcia, a junior at Rutgers University, replied that he hopes those incarcerated with minor marijuana offenses will now be released.

“This is only the first step,” Gov. Murphy tweeted in a response to AJ+. “Let’s keep moving toward social and racial equality.”

Black people are almost four times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession than white people. While the governor has repeatedly shown his support for addressing racial disparities in arrests, he has yet to state how.

In fact, the NAACP has recently criticized the Cannabis Regulatory Commission Gov. Murphy created, as the panel has no Black men. There is one Black woman, Dianna Houenou, who previously worked for the ACLU, but the NAACP pointed out that the law stipulated one council member should be an active representative for an organization addressing discrimination.

“I don’t think anyone should be satisfied with marijuana legalization when decriminalization has yet to be fully addressed,” said senior Danielle DeAngelis.

While one student says this is a long overdue reform, many still feel not enough has been done. What will come of the law going forward is still unclear, though the rocky start for the Regulatory Commission may point toward a future under close watch of passionate citizens.