A Letter from Senator Ronald L. Rice to Legislative Colleages Ahead of Monday Marijuana Vote


March 22, 2019 

Dear Colleague:  

The Governor and the Legislature Leadership is pushing forward a legalization of recreational marijuana bill that they agree with and want the members of the New Jersey Legislature to rubber stamp it.  

Today you probably received a letter from former Assemblyman Scott Rudder, who is now a business person pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana. He indicated he’s a former mayor and legislator. As I recall, during his tenure in the legislature he was not as much concerned about the, issue of, “social justice,” for black and brown people as he alleged he is today as a business person. 

I am currently a legislator, a former councilman, and former deputy mayor representing the largest city in the state, who served during Scott Rudders tenure as an assemblyman. What the former assemblyman failed to tell you in his communications to us is some of the negative impacts that legalizing recreational marijuana would have on people in communities particularly urban communities and those suburban communities that borders the urban communities. Therefore, I am re-sending you the information that I’ve sent to you in the past for review and consideration. I’m asking legislators not to be pressured but instead take all things into consideration and Vote NO on S2703/A4497 

(By the way, we in the legislature can still “save billions of taxpayers’ dollars” and “put an end to an unjust law that has destroyed countless lives,” through decriminalization alone.) 

*Please note that on the pros or cons side of the debate no one speaks to the impact of law suits based on the “American Disability Act.” New Jersey has a large population of senior citizens and disabled residents residing in both, one family residential housing and multiple-family housing units. This is not addressed in any legislation. Our senior and disabled residents have a right and need to know this. 

Let me preface my remarks by stating there is a difference between Medical marijuana and Recreational marijuana. Most of the New Jersey Legislators are not making clear to the public the difference. Legislators’ conversation and message to the public is only about who can make money and a promise of social justice for black and brown people in particular.  

The state has made it clear at various public hearings, on the record, that it would take between 6 to 8 years to truly address the social justice and expungement issues. This will be a substantial and costly expense to the state because of the need to change/improve our state IT system and technology; and due to the manner in which New Jersey arrest and record marijuana offenses at all levels of government including the Motor Vehicle Commission. 

The New Jersey debate is around legalizing recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is already legal in New Jersey. The Medical marijuana law needs to be fixed in order to implement and enforce it. 

Unfortunately, the public is not being provided with the factual and foreseeable information regarding the negative impact that legalizing recreational marijuana will have on the lives, health and welfare of our residents, black and brown people in particular; and on the quality of life in urban communities.   

Our residents, taxpayers, voters, parents of preschool and school aged children as well as our senior citizens and workers should be informed and made aware of what we know to date. 

Below is a brief summary of what we know about the legalization of Recreational Marijuana from other states: 

We know there is rising potency. We know that Marijuana concentrates in the 1990’s THC was 3.8 percent. In 2017, the THC was 68.6 percent. 

We know after only 6 years of Non-stop innovation on commercial market products more teens are using marijuana with unprecedented levels of THC after the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana.  

  • We know that the number of people on drugs who never thought about using any type of drug substance has increased substantially in Colorado and other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. 
  • We know that more new born babies are born with THC impacting their brains. 
  • We know that more pregnant women who are breastfeeding babies have THC in their breastmilk. 
  • We know that the number of young people entering hospitals emergency rooms with marijuana related illnesses have increased substantially. 
  • We know that children are now vaping marijuana oils and waxes and vaporized cannabis contain a lot more THC. THC is the marijuana ingredient responsible for psychoactive effects such as paranoia and anxiety. 
  • We know that the number of college students using drugs has increased substantially. 
  • We know that interstate and intercity drug trafficking has increased substantially in Colorado, Nevada and other states that passed legalization laws for recreational marijuana. 
  • We know that the use of other drugs (heroine, methadone) is going up in Colorado, Nevada and other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. 
  • We know that Opioid users who cannot get methadone treatment are turning to heroine. 
  • We know that marijuana homicides are increasing. 
  • We know that more black people are arrested for marijuana violations even though recreational use of marijuana is legal in Colorado and a few other states. 
  • We know that marijuana use increases mental issues. 
  • We know that women and kids believe that it is ok to use drugs because it is legal therefore, there is no health risk. 
  • We know that auto accidents have risen significantly. New Jersey has the highest auto insurance rates in the country and it keeps going up. 
  • We know that businesses cannot hire local workers because of drug testing with drugs in the system. 
  • We know that businesses are concerned about liability issues and impact on workers compensation. 
  • We know that there will be many lawsuits forthcoming by and against family members, parents, businesses, labor unions, insurance companies, etc. 
  • We know that banks will not lend money to establish marijuana businesses. 
  • We know that the Mexican Cartels have moved into Colorado and Nevada to set up legal growing businesses. 
  • We know that the black market is growing. 
  • We know that marijuana edible retail stores selling various marijuana products, oils, lip sticks, etc., are put in mostly black and brown communities within our neighborhoods and on local commercial corridors. 
  • We know that billionaires like George Soros, John Sperling, Peter Lewis and others funded the movement and use non-profit grass-roots organizations they’ve formed, with some civil rights and faith-based leaders to deceive the American public of their real intent (to make money) under the auspices of social justice for black and brown people, in order to enrich themselves.  
  • We know that black and brown people cannot compete with the wealthy wall street investors’ money and resources to get the above type of information and message to people of color telling the other side of the legalization of recreational marijuana story as it relates the real intent of the movement, and the harm that legalization is causing our children and children for generations to come. The story of  black, brown and poor people who are desperate for help being once again, deceived with the help of some civil rights leaders, clergy, elected officials, ACLU and others who are not doing their homework or who stands to benefit in some way from the legalization of recreational marijuana. 
  • We know that lobbyists are paid a lot of money to get NJ Legislators to pass recreational legalization legislation in NJ without any regards as to the impact on people of color, communities of color and urban cities 

What we know about New Jersey without Recreational Marijuana being legalized. 

  • We know that New Jersey is not Colorado. The demographics are different. 
  • We know New Jersey is the fourth most populous state in the country and the most dense state in the country. 
  • We know urban cities houses majority black and brown children with the highest asthma rate, highest lead poison rate, highest infant mortality rate, highest rate of homeless families, lowest high school test scores and highest rate of children dropping out of schools. 
  • New Jersey leads the country in foreclosure rates and urban cities have the highest foreclosure rates in the counties.  
  • We know urban neighborhoods are plagued with un-boarded abandoned buildings.  
  • We know urban hospitals emergency rooms are over-crowded and under staffed driving up the cost of healthcare at Urban healthcare institutions. 
  • We know that people in New Jersey’s urban and monolith communities receiving food stamps are taking the food stamps into bodegas where the owner will cash the food stamps, keep a large portion of the money and give the food stamp person a portion of the money who then goes the corner location near the bodegas or other fast food chicken or Chinese store to buy drugs. 
  • We know that low and moderate income wage earners are paying $1,200-$1,300, plus dollars a month for rent to live in run-down slum properties to provide shelter for family members. Many of these families that never used drugs will become homeless once they start to buy marijuana products from the retail stores. 
  • We know that residents receiving federal subsidies (safety-net programs) can and will lose subsidies. This will create all kinds of other problems for some black and brown families and residents in particular. 
  • Newark, Paterson and Jersey City recently received local control back of their public school for the first time in over twenty years and Camden is still under state control. 
  • We know that New Jersey is leading the nation in foreclosure and cities are seeing the light of a potential renaissance. 
  • Some cities are finally beginning to see a renaissance because working families are willing to take a chance in raising their children in urban cities where the renaissances are currently taking place, such as, Newark, Jersey City, Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, etc.  
  • We know that urban cities are college towns. New Jersey is a college state. 
  • We know that New Jersey has one of the highest insurance rates in the US. 
  • Based on what we know about drug activities, gangs and violent crimes in New Jersey, there are some things that are foreseeable that must be factored into any decision to legalize marijuana. 
  • We know that the message justifying why New Jersey Law makers should legalize recreational marijuana is insulting. We are told that black people are arrested and incarcerated three times more than whites for marijuana drug violations but black and brown people will not be set free unless we agree to legalize a drug (recreational marijuana), that we know is going to do more harm to black and brown people; and to urban communities and the education systems. 
  • We are told that we have to legalize recreational marijuana to create more drug addicts in order to get treatment money for people who are presently addicted to drugs. 
  • We are told indirectly that little black and brown children will now have to go to school and go out to play in urban communities with marijuana drugs stores on every block competing with liquor stores, and drug dealers on every corner, on church steps and in what few playgrounds black and brown people have left to play in. 
  • We are being told by some black leaders subliminal messages that it is ok for wealthy white people and white Wall Street investors to spend their money to legalize recreational marijuana that is guaranteed to increase the number of drug addicts in the black and brown communities, on our college campuses and in our public schools as long as a handful of black people can also make money off of black and brown people and urban communities. 
  • We know that creating a few recreational marijuana drug businesses in the black, brown and urban communities will ensure that the increased number of people who buy their drug products and become addicts will not be able to get a decent job, keep the job they have and be employed because they cannot pass a drug test. 
  • We know that urban and decayed municipalities will be stymied in attracting new businesses to their cities. They could very well lose the businesses that are presently operating in urban cities due to their inability to hire workers who can pass a drug test. Loss of business and property tax revenues will increase the quality of life problems.  
  • We know that increasing the quality of life problems will cause a need to increase taxes on property owners which in many cases will cause increases in rent for renters. 


Marijuana questions that need to be raised and answers provided: 

  • How would the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey impact minority infants and children given all the environmental health problems created in urban communities?  
  • What will the impact be on minority and women intern and apprenticeship jobs programs? 
  • Why do the Governor and Legislators want to raise marijuana taxes to create more addicts but do not want to raise millionaire taxes to educated students and support programs for senior and disabled citizens, our youth and the homeless on the streets in urban communities?  
  • Why do we tell our children not to do drugs? Now we tell them it is alright to do drugs and to become addicts, as long as the state government can raise taxes and make money off them. 




Senator Ronald L. Rice 

28th Legislative District  





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6 responses to “A Letter from Senator Ronald L. Rice to Legislative Colleages Ahead of Monday Marijuana Vote”

  1. No matter what Sen. Rice has done in the past or future is incomparable to what he’s done here.

    Sen. Rice stood up for NJ, urban communities and the minority residents most at risk.

    Sen. Rice is a hero. God bless him.

    • Rice is a damn dinosaur with outdated and factually wrong views on marijuana. Half the things in his letter are easily debunked and the rest is either out of context or being presented without qualifying info. Rice and the rest of his anti weed posse of 70+ year old lawmakers are trying to (and so far succeeding at) screwing us all over for the sake his pharmaceutical donors and his own outdated views on the devil weed from being a beat cop enforcing prohibition for all those years. He and his ilk need to be voted out ASAP

  2. What the hell???

    NJ S3621
    Legalizes personal use of marijuana, subject to voter approval.

    Introduced Session:
    2018-2019 Regular Session
    Bill Summary:
    This bill would legalize the personal use of marijuana and the possession of one ounce (28.38 grams) or less of marijuana. Currently, it is a disorderly persons offense to use marijuana, or to possess 50 grams or less of marijuana. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. It is a crime of the fourth degree to possess more than 50 grams of marijuana. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months or a fine of up to $10,000, or both. Under the bill, the possession of marijuana in an amount larger than one ounce (28.38 grams) would be treated as follows: (1) The possession of more than one ounce (28.38 grams) of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, but not exceeding 50 grams of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, would not be a criminal offense. Instead, the bill would impose a $50 civil penalty. The penalty would be recovered by and in the name of the State by the local municipality, and be retained by the municipality for the general uses of the municipality. (2) The possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, would be downgraded from a crime of the fourth degree to a disorderly persons offense. The bill also legalizes the use, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the personal use of one ounce (28.38 grams) or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants. Under the bill, a person who uses, or possesses with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the personal use of more than one ounce (28.38 grams) of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, but not exceeding 50 grams of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, would not be guilty of a crime or offense but would be subject to the $50 civil penalty established by the bill. Under current law, it is a disorderly persons offense to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance, controlled substance analog or toxic chemical in violation of the provisions of chapter 35 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes. The bill would take effect only if approved by the voters in a Statewide referendum. The referendum would be held at the next available general election, which in accordance with Article II, Section I, paragraph 2 of the New Jersey Constitution must be a general election held at least 70 days following the date of the bill’s enactment.

    Bill Subjects:
    Sponsors (1):
    Ron Rice (D)*

    Last Action:
    Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee (on 3/18/2019)

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