Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy has become the first New Jersey gubernatorial candidate to publicly endorse legalization of marijuana for adults, earning him praise from New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, a nonpartisan coalition seeking to legalize marijuana for adults in New Jersey. This position of the candidate, who on May 16 publicly announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for New Jersey governor, was first reported by The Star-Ledger’s Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran in a Sunday column arguing passionately for legalization.
A June 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll (PDF) found that 58 percent of New Jerseyans support the legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older.
The following statement about Ambassador Murphy’s endorsement is attributable to Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference, on behalf of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform:
“We welcome Ambassador Murphy’s leadership in supporting an end to our broken marijuana prohibition laws. These laws have failed New Jerseyans for far too long. Anyone who hopes to become governor must be committed to ending prohibition and support replacing it with a safe and responsible legal marijuana system for adults. We look forward to all prospective candidates — regardless of political party — announcing their support for marijuana legalization.
“With more than 24,000 marijuana possession arrests by New Jersey law enforcement each year, and Black New Jerseyans nearly three times more likely to be arrested than Whites, legalization of marijuana is a civil rights priority and an economic imperative. Legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana for adults will both provide a tremendous revenue boost to our state and advance a critical social justice initiative.
“There is no reason to wait for a new governor to move forward. Murphy’s early stance against marijuana prohibition shows how dramatically the political winds have shifted in favor of legalization, both in New Jersey and nationally. Continuing the war on marijuana is less popular among New Jersey voters than making marijuana legal. The time to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults is now.”
New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, which launched in February 2015, is a partnership of public safety, medical, civil rights, faith, political and criminal justice reform organizations and individuals committed to changing New Jersey’s laws to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults. NJUMR’s steering committee members include the ACLU of New Jersey, Former President and Current Secretary of the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association J.H. Barr, Former Executive Director of the New Jersey Assembly and current Archer & Greiner Of Counsel Bill Caruso, the Latino Action Network, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, Princeton-based psychiatrist and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation Co-founder Dr. David Nathan, and NORML NJ.