Newsbrief: New Jersey Doubles "Club Drug" Penalties 4/11/03

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New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey Tuesday signed into law a bill that will increase penalties for people who use, possess, or sell so-called club drugs, including MDMA (ecstasy), GHB, and ketamine, as well as methamphetamine. Under the new law, penalties for possession of those drugs will increase from three years in prison to five years and a fine of up to $15,000. Sellers of ecstasy or other listed drugs will face up to 20 years in prison.

The action marks the second time in three years that New Jersey lawmakers have stiffened penalties for ecstasy. In 2000, then Gov. Christy Whitman signed a bill increasing penalties to their current range (

Unlike most drug war law enforcement, this measure is aimed squarely at white middle-class youth, the most frequent users of ecstasy and other club drugs. New Jersey law enforcement authorities have traditionally focused ecstasy actions on the summertime party scene on the Jersey Shore.

According to prohibitionist legislator George Geist (R-Gloucester), who also authored a law funneling money from drug fines to the DARE program, the bill is designed to protect young people. "We need to work overtime to protect our younger generation," Geist said. "This law is aimed at preventing rave parties and certain dance clubs from becoming the centers for distribution of these drugs."

Another prohibitionist legislator, Michael Doherty (R-Hunterdon/Warren) also played the "what about the children?" tune. "Illegal drugs are a tremendously negative force in our society. I would support any law that punishes people who sell drugs," Doherty said. "We really can't tolerate that type of behavior --particularly around our schoolchildren."

But the legislation applies to adult sales and possession.

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Issue #282, 4/11/03 HEA Reform: Day of Action on Campuses Nationwide, Press Conference in Washington, ABA and Join Together Join the Fight | Save the Children, Screw the Rest of Us: RAVE Act, Measure to Limit Judicial Sentencing Discretion Pass House and Senate | Coca Battles Heat Up in Peru: Strikes, Street Battles, March to Lima Underway | US Prisoner Number Hits Two Million | Columbia, Missouri, Marijuana Reform Initiative Prompts Progress in Defeat | Action Alerts: Hemp Food, Global Legalization, Maryland Medical Marijuana | The Week Online Still Needs Your Help! | Newsbrief: Brazilian Cabinet Member Calls for Drug Decriminalization | Newsbrief: Medical Marijuana "Truth in Trials Act" Introduced | Newsbrief: New Jersey Doubles "Club Drug" Penalties | Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Michigan Welfare Drug-Test Requirement | Newsbrief: Ohio Appeals Court Rules Mom's Marijuana Use Not Adequate Reason for State to Seize Kids | Newsbrief: Wayne State Passes HEA Reform Resolution in Advance of SSDP National Day of Action | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Web Scan: IAL report, Southern Prison Expansion, Huffington on Tulia, Journal of Neuroscience on MedMj, Reason on Stepnoski | The Reformer's Calendar

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