Urge Governor Murphy to Grant Clemency for New Jersey's Cannabis Prisoners!

Governor Murphy

At the same time, many are poised to profit off of New Jersey's state-regulated cannabis industry, others remain incarcerated for the exact same activity. To address this injustice, we're putting forth a clemency initiative aimed at freeing, and providing other forms of retroactive relief, for those who remained imprisoned in New Jersey for cannabis-related offenses.  

To: Governor Murphy
From: [Your Name]

Dear Governor Murphy,

While many are currently poised to mint millions of dollars operating state-regulated cannabis businesses, other (disproportionately Black and brown) people continue to suffer the collateral consequences of New Jersey's unjust and inequitable approach to the criminalization of marijuana. Hundreds remain incarcerated or on supervised release in the state as a result of a cannabis offense.

While New Jersey has taken steps to redress this disparity, including provisions for expungement and limited resentencing, existing efforts are not enough to fully repair these harms. No one should remain imprisoned in New Jersey for cannabis while others profit. That is why I am calling on you to grant categorical clemency to all individuals incarcerated in New Jersey prisons for cannabis-related offenses.

With more than two million individuals imprisoned, the United States leads the world in incarceration. The majority of those incarcerated are held in state facilities. Mass incarceration has devastated families and communities—causing untold human suffering and economic loss—and has placed enormous burdens on limited state resources. Our criminal legal system's obsession with lengthy terms of imprisonment denigrates the fundamental notion of human redemption. It is impossible to calculate the lost opportunities and economic impact of this misguided approach.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic—which has had a disproportionate impact on incarcerated populations (as well as those who are responsible for their supervision and care)—underscores the urgent need to intelligently and safely reduce prison populations.

For those whose lengthy incarceration is driven by cannabis-related offenses, the injustice and senselessness of their plight is particularly striking. In 2010 the New Jersey legislature legalized cannabis for medicinal use. A decade later, the adult use of marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by voters. Today, the state of New Jersey is projected to bring in up to $173.5 million a year in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis. Put simply, while the state's cannabis industry is on the cusp of becoming a booming business, hundreds still languish in state prison or continue to suffer the collateral consequences of marijuana-related offenses for doing the *exact same thing*.

The time is right to seek redress for the individuals impacted by these convictions... to enable them to reenter society, and to restore the rights that have been needlessly forfeited as a consequence of those convictions.