TRENTON – Senate President Nick Scutari and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz issued the following statement welcoming President Joe Biden’s executive decision to pardon those convicted of federal marijuana possession offenses:
“We welcome President Biden’s executive decision to pardon those convicted under federal marijuana possession laws. This will bring an element of justice to those whose lives were disrupted and destroyed by a failed drug policy that had a discriminatory impact on people of color. The pardons will help restore their ability to access equal employment, fair housing and educational opportunities, among other rights denied to them because of past convictions.
“New Jersey demonstrated the success of drug reforms in 2021 due in part to the hard work of the Legislature in partnership with Governor Murphy to provide the most expansive marijuana decriminalizing law in the country. It’s a model that other states can follow.
“The President’s actions send a clear message that the country needs to move forward to correct the legal and social injustices of the War on Drugs that has inflicted generational damage on Black and brown communities for decades. We also support the effort to reclassify marijuana in federal law so it is no longer included with heroin and other hard drugs. It’s a misclassification that invites overly harsh legal consequences.
“We can continue to chart a new direction with drug laws that don’t make criminals of adults who use a substance that is legal in a growing number of states – including New Jersey – and bring greater fairness and equity to the criminal justice system. Restorative justice should be the guiding principle to continued reforms.”