How a Push to Legalize Pot in N.J. Became a Debate on Race and Fairness

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Supported byHow a Push to Legalize Pot in N.J. Became a Debate on Race and FairnessImageActivists rallied in support of legalized pot in New Jersey in 2014. One would make recreational marijuana legal for anyone 21 or older; another would expand the use of medical marijuana; and a third would dismiss some criminal convictions.Mr. Cunningham said she was initially hesitant to support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | SubscribeRelated CoverageIn New Jersey, Legal Marijuana Is So Close You Can Smell It. Murphy again would not say which proposal he favored.A provision in the legalization bill would allow anyone previously convicted of marijuana possession to have it cleared from their record.

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How a Push to Legalize Pot in N.J. Became a Debate on Race and Fairness

ImageActivists rallied in support of legalized pot in New Jersey in 2014. This year, creating an efficient process for tossing out past convictions has become central to gaining support from some lawmakers.CreditCreditMel Evans/Associated Press

By Nick Corasaniti

Nov. 28, 2018

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TRENTON — The debate in the New Jersey Legislature over whether to legalize recreational marijuana is unexpectedly turning into a wrenching discussion about fairness in the criminal justice system and the role of race in hundreds of thousands of drug convictions over the decades.

As lawmakers edge closer to approving a marijuana legalization bill, they are also weighing a groundbreaking companion measure that would clear the criminal records of many people with drug offenses. Ten other...

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