Marijuana laws in Jersey City go up in smoke as of Thursday, July 19, as Mayor Steven Fulop and Chief Prosecutor Jake Hudnut direct all Jersey City prosecutors to cease prosecuting marijuana possession cases before the municipal courts.
Jersey City will be the first in New Jersey to put forward a policy to address decriminalization on a local level, in the hopes of guiding other towns across the state to enact similar changes to outdated marijuana policies.
“The fact is, marijuana arrests and prosecutions in New Jersey, and around the nation, point to severe inequalities that negatively impact people of color disproportionately, and lead to long-term economic challenges for anyone who finds themselves prosecuted for possession,” said Mayor Fulop. “We are working to correct this with our new policy in a proactive way, and I am proud that we will be the first in the state to do so.”
As the state continues to pass around various versions of a marijuana decriminalization program, Jersey City simply took it upon themselves to spark their own effort.
“In a City as large, diverse, and progressive as Jersey City, we are poised to take action and address this injustice,” said Chief Prosecutor Jake Hudnut. “We will not contribute to the racially disparate and costly prosecution of a nonviolent offense that is on the verge of legalization amid widespread public support. We have seen similar policies enacted with success across the country, and I am confident in our ability to join this conversation in a productive and positive way.”
According to the City, there are more than 25,000 arrests for marijuana possession each year in New Jersey—and it is estimated that prosecution following these arrests has cost the state well more than $1 billion each decade in policing, court operations, probation, and jailing.