Faith advocates across the state emphasize the need for equitable and fair cannabis laws
(NEW JERSEY) – Today, prominent New Jersey faith leaders joined together to encourage voters to turn the page on cannabis prohibition by voting “YES” on Public Question 1 this November, likely to appear on the back of voters’ ballots.
These clergy leaders are actively urging their communities and congregations to support Public Question 1, which helps ensure fairness, equity, and justice in the state’s cannabis laws while also delivering economic opportunities for marginalized communities.
“For decades, Black and Latinx people have been arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for cannabis possession at far higher rates than white people despite similar consumption rates,” said Rev. Simeon Spencer, Union Baptist Church. “A yes vote on Public Question 1 will end the incentive to stop people for suspicion of cannabis possession, and we can reduce the interactions between police and people of color. This is an important first step toward broader reforms that are vitally needed to address racial injustices in New Jersey and to begin to create a fairer community for all residents.”
An analysis of 2018 arrest statistics shows that Black people were arrested at 3.45 times the rate of their White counterparts, despite similar rates of consumption. The faith leaders are educating their communities about the injustices caused by cannabis prohibition, as well as the social and economic benefits to be gained from legalization. The leaders emphasized that voting “YES” on Public Question 1 will begin to correct the injustices that current cannabis laws have imposed on Black and Brown New Jerseyans.
“Outdated cannabis laws have held our communities back for far too long. One cannabis arrest under current law can make it difficult for someone to find a job or housing for the rest of their life, and I’ve seen this happen to too many people,” said Rev. Kenneth Clayton, St. Luke Baptist Church. “Our laws disproportionately affect communities of color and legalization has the potential to remove unfairly harsh punishments now suffered by entire families. New Jersey has a chance to right some of these wrongs, by voting yes on Public Question 1.”
Legalization of adult-use cannabis in New Jersey provides an opportunity to offer a form of social justice for communities of color that have been disproportionately targeted in enforcement of state and federal prohibition. By eliminating these outdated laws and instead taxing and safely regulating adult-use cannabis, a “YES” vote on Public Question 1 will take an important step to address the harms of our troubled criminal justice system.
New faith leaders in support of the NJ CAN 2020 campaign to pass Public Question 1 include:
- Rev. Kenneth Clayton, St. Luke Baptist Church, Paterson, NJ
- Rev. Michael Jordan, Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church, East Orange, NJ
- Rev. Simeon Spencer, Union Baptist Church, Trenton, NJ
- Rev. Jeffrey Vamos, The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville, Lawrenceville, NJ
- Rev. Cory Jones, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Burlington, NJ
- Rev. John Taylor, Friendship Baptist Church, Trenton, NJ
For more information on NJ CAN 2020 or vote-by-mail, visit https://www.njcan2020.org/.
About NJ CAN 2020
NJ CAN 2020 represents a coalition of New Jersey voters committed to creating fairness in the administration of the state’s marijuana laws and cannabis industry. We want to end the prohibition on marijuana in New Jersey and foster a regulated cannabis market that encourages inclusion for entrepreneurs across the state and creates good jobs and a new taxing authority for local governments when they need it most.