The Complex Road to Legalizing Marijuana

Steve Adubato talks to Amol Sinha, Executive Director, ACLU-NJ, about the complex road to legalizing marijuana, political spending issues, and the concerns with solitary confinement restrictions in New Jersey prisons.

6/29/19 #313






"We're pleased to welcome Amol Sinha, who is Executive Director, ACLU of New Jersey. That's the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. Good to see you Amol. Good to be here. Talk about a bunch of issues that matter to you. By the way, ACLU is all about what? Well, the ACLU is a nationwide civil rights and liberties organization. We're here in New Jersey for 60 years. And we defend and promote everybody's Constitutional rights in the state. Let's talk about some of the top issues. Number one, the legalization of recreational marijuana is a civil liberties union for... what...? I'm not... civil liberties... your reason... issue? Yeah. I don't get it. So for us, legalization is a racial justice issue. If you're black in New Jersey, you're three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than if you're white. And the reality is that every single year, for the past... since the year 2000, we've been increasing the number of marijuana arrests. And the disproportionality has maintained. So in 2013, we had 27,000 arrests. In 2017, we had 37,000 marijuana related arrests in our state. Even though we have a statewide conversation about legalization. And everybody believes that regardless of where you fall on the issue, everybody believes that nobody should be saddled with the lifelong collateral consequences of a marijuana conviction. But it's like, here's the thing. We just had a conversation with Senator Ron Rice, who said he's against the legalization of recreational marijuana, but absolutely for the decriminalization of marijuana. You say? Well, where Senator Rice and I agree, is that nobody should be saddled with these criminal justice consequences. He believes that people should... He believes it's an issue of race. So do you? Yeah. Yeah exactly. Okay, but you don't like, you don't agree, with decriminalization? That's right. Because? So I think decriminalization isn't the half-measure that people think it is. I think full legalization is really going to undo the harms that the War on Drugs have wrought in New Jersey. So that includes creating an industry that's diverse. Providing opportunities for people who have criminal justice histories. Creating economic opportunities for those communities that have been the hardest hit by the War on Drugs. Those are things that full legalization can bring to the table that decriminalization doesn't. What's dark money? Dark money... And why does it matter? So the bill that we're talking about is the Donor Disclosure Bill. Is that actually... by the way, we're taping on the 18th of June. We'll be seen later. There's a bill being voted on today. We don't know what's going to happen. That's right. What should happen? And what is it? So the bill that's being considered would require any organization..."