New Jersey allows medical marijuana and may be edging toward legalizing recreational pot, but cannabis activists impatient with the legislative process are quietly gathering support for something they hope will be quicker to accomplish — decriminalization at the local level.
And if they have their way, Camden could become the first city in the state to pass an ordinance ending criminal penalties for the simple possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Instead of making an arrest and handcuffing offenders, police would be authorized to issue civil citations and nominal fines.
Councilman Angel Fuentes is backing the change and said he hopes it can happen as early as the fall, after a study is expected to be completed.
“Camden is taking the initiative. … If we start this process, Newark and Paterson, Passaic, and Trenton may look at us and take a lead as well,” he said.
Across the river, Philadelphia led the way in 2014 with a decriminalization bill that initially faced strong opposition from former Mayor Michael Nutter and former Police Chief Charles Ramsey. Then a