September 19, 2019 | 47° F

Closer Look: As New Jersey's recreational marijuana bill advances here is how drug policy at Rutgers might change

Photo by Pxhere |

New Jersey residents 21 and older would be legally allowed to possess and use up to 1 ounce of marijuana if the current bill were to pass as stands. A 12 percent tax would also be created and imposed on commercial marijuana industries in the state.

New Jersey lawmakers on Monday voted to advance a bill that would legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana for adults in the state during a special joint committee meeting between Assembly and Senate members of the legislature.

Senate Bill 2703 was approved following hours of deliberation by lawmakers, with the Assembly Appropriations Committee approving the measure in a 7-3 vote with one abstention and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approving it in a 7-4 vote with two abstentions, according to NJBIZ

It now awaits a floor vote in both chambers of the state legislature before it can be signed or vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), who made promises to legalize marijuana during his run for office.

The bill would legalize the possession and personal use of 1 ounce or less of marijuana for those 21 and older, and create, regulate and impose a 12 percent tax on commercial marijuana industries in the state, according to NJ Advance Media.

The votes by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee represent the first legislative vote on legalization in New Jersey history, according to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey. 

ACLU NJ said the bill would also establish and expedite the expungement process to erase marijuana records and create opportunities for people with prior convictions to participate in the new cannabis industry, create spaces for people who cannot consume at home, allow delivery for people with limited mobility and work toward an equity program to promote inclusivity.

At Rutgers, The Daily Targum reported that if New Jersey laws change and marijuana is legalized, the Office of Student Conduct drug policies will change slightly. 

“If state law changes and marijuana becomes legal, possession and use on campus will still be a violation of the Code of Student Conduct, but a student may not be arrested," Kevin Pitt, director of the office, said to the Targum in April. "We will work with the Alcohol and Drug Initiatives Committee on any changes to disciplinary sanctions if new legislation is passed.”

He also said that Rutgers has no plans to change any of its drug policies, except for keeping up with legislative changes that may impact state law — if New Jersey law changes, Rutgers will review its policies to ensure that it is compliant. 

Under its current policy, students who possess or use marijuana must undergo educational programming or intervention and follow up with a Student Conduct staff member for their first offense, according to the Visiting Student Handbook. 

On a student’s second offense, housing is taken away if they live on campus. For students who live off campus and receive a second offense, they must pay a fine and can be placed on probation, as reported by the Targum. 

"For a student(s) first offense, our office approaches the violation both educationally and punitively," Pitt said in an email at the time. "For a first-time violation, a student would be sanctioned to attend the fantastic Alcohol & Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) run by CAPS as well as, issued a reprimand and a fine."

Ryan Stiesi

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