Most of those who testified at a New Jersey Senate committee hearing said they support legislation to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Princeton psychiatrist Dr. David Nathan say there's no evidence marijuana is a gateway to using opioids or other drugs.
“Marijuana prohibition began in the 1930’s over the objections of the American Medical Association based on scare tactics and fabricated evidence that suggested that the drug was highly addictive, made users violent, and was fatal in overdose. We now know that none of those assertions are true.”
Richard Edwards with the New Jersey NAACP says legalizing marijuana is a civil rights issue.
"We as black people and minorities have been incarcerated three times, really almost four times as much as our white counterpart, and the usage is 50-50."
Dianna Houenou with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey believes the legislation would have a positive impact.
"By legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana, New Jersey can focus resources on serious crime, generate more than $300 million per year to fund much-needed community services and programs like drug abuse prevention and drug treatment."
Opponent Phil Kirschner of Moorestown believes legalizing marijuana for adults means drug dealers will target teenagers.
"The dealers can offer much more potent marijuana than the stores can. The dealers will be able to sell as much as they want."
Governor Christie opposes legalization. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Nick Scutari wants to have legislation ready for a new governor to sign after taking office in January.
“So next year we’ll be ready to go. Signed, sealed, and delivered within the first hundred days.”