By Molly Daly

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey Assembly panel has unanimously approved legislation that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Under the bill, possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana would be subject to fines ranging from $150 for a first offense to $500 for a third or subsequent violation.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton) says under the current law, offenders could see their dreams go up in smoke.

“This could affect getting advancement in jobs, it could affect getting student loans,” he notes.

(NJ assemblyman Reed Gusciora. Photo provided)

Gusciora (right) says the measure would save taxpayers money, and allow police to make better use of their time.

“Each marijuana cigarette has to be sent to a new Jersey state police lab for analysis, the lab technician has to come to court to testify, and it just costs thousands of dollars to prosecute simple possession of marijuana,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

The bill now goes to the full state Assembly, and then to the state Senate.

“Hopefully, we’ll continue to have bipartisan support,” Gusciora says.

The measure would bring New Jersey in line with 14 other states, not including Pennsylvania.