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New Jersey's Black Caucus could be the state's biggest obstacle for legalizing weed

New Jersey's governor Phil Murphy has made legal weed one of his pet issues.

by Roberto Ferdman
May 31 2018, 5:35pm

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has made legal weed one of his pet issues, pitching it as a social justice issue and promising to legalize the drug in his state by the end of this year.

If he succeeds, the state would become the ninth state (not including Washington, D.C.) to legalize the drug and just the second state to do so legislatively, since it will be decided by the state's congress instead of voters.

But opposition is mounting, and not just from older, white, conservative politicians. In fact, one of the loudest skeptics is New Jersey's Legislative Black Caucus, which could sway the vote in November.

VICE News attended a hearing held by the Black Caucus where older members of the black community voiced their concerns.

"I worry that, number one, people are gonna get themselves killed in my neighborhood," New Jersey State Sen. Ronald Rice told VICE News. "A lot of the crack people and heroin people started with marijuana."

New Jersey native and former NBA player Al Harrington has a decidedly different view on the matter. He was taught to hate marijuana growing up, but today he's the owner of a successful weed business out West. He's hoping to bring it back to his home state.

"The first thing I started thinking about was how I can go back into my old community and try to uplift the community by bringing this industry there and creating jobs," Harrington said.

This segment originally aired May 23, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.