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New Jersey Prosecutors Group Backs Legalization Of Marijuana

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A man smoke a marijuana cigarette. (credit: Getty Images)

A man smoke a marijuana cigarette. (credit: Getty Images)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association supports legalizing possession of marijuana.

Seven members of the group’s board of trustees voted to back the idea. Two were opposed, and one member abstained.

“We are spending too much time and getting not enough results when it comes to prosecuting small amounts of marijuana,” Jon-Henry Barr, head of the Municipal Prosecutors Association, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

About 22,000 people are arrested in New Jersey each year for possession of the drug.

“These are generally law-abiding people,” Barr said. “They are not criminals.”

Barr said prosecutors could be focusing on more pressing problems. A recent Gallup poll showed 58 percent of Americans believe pot should be legal.

Last week, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, proposed a bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana, tax it and use the revenue to pay to fix the state’s roads and bridges.

“It will bring marijuana out of the underground market, where it can be controlled, regulated, and taxed just as alcohol has been for decades,”Scutari said.

The motivation, Scutari said, is the amount of tax dollars Colorado has projected it will generate after recreational marijuana was legalized in that state this year. The projection totals over $100 million.

The New Jersey bill calls for a 7 percent tax on marijuana, which would be sold at designated stores just like alcohol is.

Under Scutari’s plan, which also is being introduced in the state Assembly, 70 percent of the state’s tax revenue from pot would go to a transportation fund. State officials have been wrestling with how to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

Another 20 percent of the sales tax revenues would go toward drug enforcement, and 10 percent to women’s health.

Gov. Chris Christie has said he opposes the legalization of marijuana.

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