Newark Bishop Jethro James Announces Opposition to Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

Newark Bishop Jethro James Announces Opposition to Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

On MLK Day, Bishop James to Issue a Call-to-Action for Religious Leaders to Speak out Against Social Injustice of Marijuana Legalization

NEWARK – Saying he won’t stand by while Big Marijuana attempts to profit off of New Jersey’s vulnerable communities, Bishop Jethro C. James, Jr., Senior Pastor of Paradise Baptist Church in Newark and President of the Newark/North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen, announced he will join New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP) as a Senior Advisor.

During his Martin Luther King Day remarks on Monday, Bishop James will issue a call-to-action to all religious leaders across different faiths to speak out against the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

“On Martin Luther King Day, I am calling on all religious leaders to speak out against this terrible policy that would only further hurt minority communities by bringing more drugs into our neighborhoods and our homes,” said Bishop James. “Dr. King would have found it unconscionable to allow the Big Marijuana industry to profit off of our cities and vulnerable communities.  Make no mistake, legalizing recreational marijuana is not social justice – it’s social injustice.  What we need is criminal justice reform, as well as advanced education in training of law enforcement to address the disproportionate arrests of minorities.”

“We are so grateful that Bishop James, a respected religious figure in the state, recognizes the moral obligation to speak out against drug policies that would hurt our children, families, and communities,” said Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a supporter of NJ-RAMP.  “Just as the Kennedy family supported the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr, we strongly support the efforts of Bishop James and other religious leaders to protect our communities from the negative consequences of marijuana commercialization.”

“We’ve seen significant proof that marijuana legalization is not the step forward for social justice that’s promised,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to President Obama. “In fact, it’s just the opposite, as the marijuana industry routinely targets vulnerable communities as its profit centers.  Just take a look at Denver, where the number of pot shops littering the city is greater than the number of McDonalds and Starbucks combined.”

According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, in the two years after Colorado legalized marijuana, the number of Hispanic and African American kids arrested for marijuana-related offenses rose 29 and 58 percent, respectively.  In the same period, the number of white kids being arrested for identical crimes dropped eight percent.  NJ-RAMP supports decriminalization and legislation with compassion toward minorities disproportionately affected by drug charges and those suffering from substance abuse disorders.

Bishop James will be addressing the issue in his Martin Luther King Day remarks on Monday, January 16, 2018 at Paradise Baptist Church, 348 – 352 15th Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103 at 11 am.  Doors open at 10 am and the media is invited to attend.  Please contact Jeanette Hoffman at for more information.

About NJ-RAMP:  NJ-RAMP is a coalition of individuals and associations who believe that the health, safety and economic consequences of recreational marijuana legalization far outweigh the perceived social benefits. The grassroots organization consists of medical doctors, community groups, treatment providers, drug prevention professionals, business owners, law enforcement officers, parents, religious leaders, and many others.

About Bishop Jethro C. James, Jr:  Bishop James is President of the Newark/North Jersey Committee of Black Churchmen. He is also a member of several civic and fraternal organizations and is very active within the community. He serves as a chaplain for the Newark Police and New Jersey State Police Departments, Special Advisor to New Jersey State Attorney General on Minority Recruitment for State Police, member of the Faith Based Committee on Homeland Security and he has been appointed by the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey to serve as a member of the Attorney Legal Ethics Committee. In addition, he serves as Chairperson of the Human Services Advisory Council of Essex County, Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) along with a host of other affiliations. He is also the Spokesperson for Safe Stop NJ



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