Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ) joins the Drug Policy Alliance Coalition

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Contact: Michele Cook
Phone 917.634.2331
Action Together New Jersey

Action Together New Jersey Joins Drug Policy Alliance’s New Solutions Campaign Coalition

Growing grassroots group, Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ) joins the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Solutions Campaign Coalition supporting fair and equitable marijuana legalization legislation and ATNJ’s Director of Drug Policy Reform testifies at the State House Annex.

Trenton, NJ – June 20, 2017-

The fastest-growing progressive grassroots group, Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ) has partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and has recently joined their New Solutions Campaign Coalition which is focused on fair and equitable marijuana legalization policy in the state of New Jersey. The New Solutions Campaign of the Drug Policy Alliance has advocated for criminal justice reforms in New Jersey for nearly a decade. Fair and equitable marijuana legalization is the latest initiative in its campaign to reform New Jersey’s broken criminal justice system. Action Together New Jersey’s mission includes advocating for social and racial justice, and criminal justice reform, so the organization’s leadership felt compelled to join this strong coalition of community activists, faith leaders and prominent social justice and civil rights organizations including civil rights activist Rev. Charles Boyer from Bethel A.M.E. Church of Woodbury, the NAACP-NJ State Conference, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Senate Bill 3195 / Assembly Bill 4872, which would legalize marijuana in New Jersey, was introduced by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union) and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Hunterdon, Mercer). Moira Nelson, director of Drug Policy Reform for Action Together New Jersey said, “We commend the sponsors for their leadership on this issue, however we are disappointed to see certain elements missing from the bill that are essential to establishing a fair and equitable marijuana market in New Jersey.”

As part of the legalization campaign, Action Together New Jersey and the other members of the coalition (led by Drug Policy Alliance) will work to ensure that policies which are fair, equitable and just are incorporated into the legislation. The coalition is fighting for policies such as automatic and retroactive expungement for people previously convicted of marijuana offenses, investment of some portion of the revenue generated from the sale of legal marijuana into the communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition, and equal opportunity to access the jobs and wealth generated by the marijuana industry.

Yesterday, June 19, 2017, Action Together New Jersey’s director of Drug Policy Reform, Moira Nelson, joined dozens of other advocates at the State House Annex in Trenton to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (the marijuana legalization bill’s sponsor). During the public hearing, leaders from across the state testified in favor of legalization, and encouraged legislation that incorporated policies intended to repair the harms that have been done to those communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition.

After the hearing, Nelson said, “It was incredibly inspiring to participate in our democratic process. Our state legislators are being very thoughtful about this particular piece of legislation – as they should be! It was encouraging to see so many people in favor of marijuana legalization, but more importantly, it was very uplifting to hear person after person speak up on behalf of those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition for decades. African Americans are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than white people even though both use marijuana at similar rates. This is a fact. I feel obligated to speak out on this issue.” She went on to say, “I am very hopeful for our future. In this unsettling political climate, we need advocates and allies to speak up for those that are disenfranchised in some way. What I witnessed today brings me immense hope.”
“I support fair and equitable marijuana legalization in New Jersey,” said Richard Smith, president of the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. “It is imperative that any legislation to legalize marijuana include policies that encourage full participation in the industry by communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition and invests some of the revenue generated by legalization back into those communities.”
Reverend Charles Boyer, Pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church of Woodbury said, “Marijuana legalization must be understood from a moral perspective. As an African American faith leader, I have seen firsthand how the war on drugs has disproportionately devastated my community even though all communities use marijuana at similar rates. A conviction for marijuana possession can have severe long-term consequences and can make it difficult or impossible to secure employment, housing, student loans, or even a driver’s license. Marijuana legalization in New Jersey must address these harms and repair those communities most impacted by our failed marijuana policies.”
Members of the coalition include: Action Together New Jersey, Action Together – Burlington County, Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Drug Policy Alliance, Faith is Our Pathway, Immigrant Rights Program-American Friends Service Committee, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, NAACP – New Jersey State Conference, New Jersey Association on Correction, New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Parents’ Caucus, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey Working Families Alliance, Prison Watch Program-American Friends Service Committee, Salvation and Social Justice, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey, Volunteers of America – Delaware Valley Chapter, Women Who Never Give Up, and Rev. Charles Boyer, Bethel A.M.E. Church of Woodbury.



Who We Are
We are the largest grassroots group in NJ and we are growing every day as NJ citizens join to fight for our values. We share a passion for equal rights, for progressive ideals, and for building a brighter future for all Americans. We are your neighbors, your friends, and your coworkers. And while we don’t always see eye to eye on every issue (just look at the pork roll/Taylor ham divide), we are residents banded together to help secure a more inclusive and progressive future for our state and our country. We invite you to join us and to be at the forefront of that change. ATNJ is part of the grassroots national network, Action Together Network (ATN), which numbers around 750,000 grassroots members nationwide.

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We’re a growing grassroots group of like-minded individuals in the Garden State who have banded together to support progressive values and ideals, advocate for equality and human rights, and help elect leaders who share our views.