Arrests for cannabis possession are on the rise in New Jersey, even while arrest rates for cannabis are declining around the rest of the country, The Associated Press reports. There were 24,765 marijuana possession arrests in New Jersey during 2013, the most the state has seen in 20 years and nearly double the number of marijuana arrests from 1993.
Udi Ofer, executive director of New Jersey’s ACLU chapter, noted that this increase “coincides with a governor who has taken an incredibly harsh tone on marijuana use,” but that he doubts “anyone knows the exact answer.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto any recreational legalization bill that might come across his desk, and during multiple events for his presidential campaign Christie has announced that — if elected president — he would take immediate action to end the legalization experiments currently underway.
According to Ofer, the uptick in arrests is particularly concerning because studies have shown that African-Americans are being charged with possession three times as often as whites, though whites are just as likely to use cannabis.
Chris Goldstein of PhillyNORML noted that, “Christie is the most vocal marijuana prohibitionist in America right now. … His rhetoric obviously hasn’t been lost on the police captains of New Jersey.”
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