This week the state Legislature in New Jersey was divided on a bill that would stop many arrested related to cannabis offenses. While one chamber moved forward with the bill, the other delayed a vote over a provision that was added last week.
The provision would lessen penalties for psychedelic mushrooms.
New Jersey’s state Assembly canceled a vote on the bill (A1897/S2535) after the state Senate added an amendment that would make possessing up to one ounce of psilocybin, or “magic,” mushrooms only a disorderly persons offense.
“The decriminalization of marijuana debate has always been about the opportunity to address these wrongful policies and begin to reverse the damage done over decades of racial and social justice, not mushrooms,” remarked Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union.
“It is very irresponsible and poor judgment of the New Jersey Senate to include such an amendment in the last hour. I believe this is a poison pill.”
The Senate however passed the measure 29 to four votes after debating it on the floor.
State Sen. Nia Gill, D-Essex stated, “How can we decriminalize a psychedelic drug called ‘magic mushrooms,’ when the basis for the decriminalization is the disproportionate impact on Black and brown communities who are arrested for marijuana?”
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, noted that the bill does not decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, but regrades the penalties. With the bill, a first-time offender could see a six-month jail sentence for possessing one ounce of mushrooms.
Currently this type of offense would carry a prison sentence of three to five years.
State Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, who sponsored the bill explained, “I still have to think about the person who is on the street corner who could get detained. And yet, two blocks down, where there will be a legal storefront, that individual could push out pounds of [marijuana] once we determine what the process looks like.”
“We have to be sure that we create concrete pathways that will take someone from the street corner to the storefront,” she added.
Before the bill heads to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk it must be passed by the Assembly.