On Monday, November 16, the New Jersey State Legislature will hold its first hearing on legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults.

Here's one potentially positive result of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie abandoning his post to campaign around the country for the Republican nomination for president: the first hearing to legalize marijuana in New Jersey is happening on Monday.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Nicholas Scutari says Monday's hearing could be “a first step in the process of finally reversing our punitive marijuana laws.’’

Scutari (D) is also the sponsor of legislation (S-1896) to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in New Jersey for those who are 21 years of age and older. 

He introduced the bill 18 months ago and is hoping Monday's ”fact-finding” hearing will build support for the measure in the State Legislature, despite Governor Chris Christie’s promise to veto any marijuana legalization attempts in the state.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in New Jersey; however, the law is the most restrictive in the nation. Patients and doctors are required to register with the state and each pay a $200 fee. There are only five medical marijuana dispensaries in the entire state (a sixth is pending).

Christie, a former federal prosecutor, has said that if he were elected president he would revive enforcement of federal marijuana laws and make marijuana illegal again in states that have legalized it. 

On Monday, the committee will hear from invited guests, including health professionals, law enforcement, clergy, civil rights organizations and policy experts on legalizing marijuana. The committee members will also review data specific to New Jersey, such as a report by the American Civil Liberties Union, which showed that New Jersey spent $127.3 million in 2010 on enforcing marijuana laws and arresting residents for marijuana possession. 

If you live in New Jersey, the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) has updates about the hearing on its website, Facebook and Twitter

The group is asking New Jersey residents to call their representatives to tell them to support the legalization and regulation of marijuana through S-1896.

If you're a vigilant New Jersey resident, you can email the Senate Judiciary Committee directly and tell them you support ending marijuana prohibition through this link.

What do you think the results of the hearing will be?Sound off below! 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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