Rice: Expungement Bill Shouldn’t be Contingent on Recreational Marijuana Legalization

Black and Latino legislators, civil rights organizers and faith leaders will demonstrate their solidarity in a unified call to action behind state veteran Senator Ronald L. Rice to prioritize passage of a package of bills that address marijuana decriminalization and expungement, as well as the juvenile justice system.

Counted as a hard negative against the recreational use of marijuana, state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) said he doesn’t have the late amended details on expungement, presented last night to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But he’s certain about one thing: expungement (otherwise known as ‘the social justice piece of marijuana legislation) should not be handcuffed to legalization.

“We don’t have the changes they made,” said Rice, refusing to endorse the expungement bill that passed through committee. “The only ones who know about the changes were those at the meeting.”

The amendments last night included tweaked language to retroactively expunge the criminal records of those possessing pot.

But “expungement is important and can be addressed on its own,” said the veteran senator from Newark. “Why don’t we work on social justice before authorizing people to try to make money [off the legal sale of marijuana]?”

Rice said he continues to be troubled by expungement’s (S-3205) connection to S-2703.

“The [expungement] bill is separate until we pass 2703; we pass 2703 and then it merges,” Rice said. “It shouldn’t be contingent on 2703. None of the bills should be contingent.”

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