MPP is excited to be moving into 2018 at a time when marijuana policy reform has unprecedented momentum. While there are sure to be challenges ahead, MPP is confident that we will make great strides this year.
In a great sign of things to come, one of our goals is already on the verge of success. On Thursday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill that would make possession and limited home cultivation legal in the Green Mountain State! The bill is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.
Gov. Chris Christie has said that he is the “only impediment” to taxing and regulating marijuana in New Jersey — and he is leaving office in January 2018. Phil Murphy (D), who has repeatedly touted his support for legalization, beat Kim Guadagno (R) by about 10 percentage points and will be the next governor!
Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22), sponsor of the bill to end marijuana prohibition in New Jersey, won easily, and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), another vocal supporter of legalization, was also victorious.
New Jersey is now well-placed to be the first state to end marijuana prohibition through the legislative process (as opposed to a citizens’ ballot initiative) — but a bill still won’t pass without hard work. And the details of the bill — things like ensuring people who have been criminalized for marijuana possession can expunge their records once marijuana possession is legalized — will require close attention to guarantee New Jersey implements the best possible public policy.
New Jersey will elect its next governor on November 7, 2017. Our friends at Marijuana Moment put together this useful guide on where the major party candidates for governor, Phil Murphy (D) and Kim Guadagno (R), stand on marijuana policy reform issues — please check it out!
In brief, Mr. Murphy supports legalizing marijuana, and Ms. Guadagno opposes legalization but supports decriminalization. Additionally, this article outlines the views of the five declared candidates from other parties if you’d like more information.
In order to vote, you must register by Tuesday, October 17. Even if you have a criminal record, you can vote as long as you are not currently incarcerated, on parole, or on probation, but you must re-register after you have served your sentence.
Can’t make it to the polls between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 7? Any New Jersey voter can vote by mail; click here for more information. If you are a New Jersey resident, please make your voice heard, and register to vote in the Garden State today!
The New Jersey Medical Marijuana Review Panel has issued initial recommendations to add several new qualifying conditions to the state’s medical marijuana program: chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders or of visceral origin, migraine, anxiety, and Tourette’s Syndrome. There will now be a 60-day public comment period, after which the Panel will consider the comments and hold another meeting before making its final recommendations.
If you are a New Jersey resident suffering from one of these conditions who could benefit from access to medical cannabis, we encourage you to submit public comments via email or mail. Mailed comments must be postmarked by Monday, September 25, 2017, and sent to:
NJ Department of Health, Medicinal Marijuana Program
Attn: Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel
PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
In other good news, the sixth Alternative Treatment Center permitted under New Jersey law has finally been issued a permit to begin cultivating medical cannabis! It will be located in Secaucus.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), who has been a leader in federal marijuana policy reform efforts, introduced one of the most comprehensive bills to date to end federal prohibition and work to alleviate some of the harms caused by bad state marijuana laws and racially disparate enforcement.
The bill would remove the federal prohibition on marijuana and withhold federal money for building jails and prisons, along with other funds, from states whose cannabis laws are shown to disproportionately incarcerate minorities.
Under the legislation, federal convictions for marijuana use and possession would be expunged and prisoners serving time for a marijuana offense would be entitled to a sentencing hearing.
Those “aggrieved” by a disproportionate arrest or imprisonment rate would be able to sue, according to the bill. And a Community Reinvestment Fund would be established to “reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs” for everything from re-entry programs to public libraries.
Please take a moment to call Sen. Booker’s office at (202) 224-3224 and thank him for helping undo the damage done by the government’s war on marijuana.
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana … And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
On the Republican side, the victor was Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. While she opposes legalization, she has said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and easing patient access to the medical marijuana program, unlike current Gov. Chris Christie.
The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. You must be registered to vote by October 17; click here for more information or to check your registration status. If you have been convicted of a crime, you can still vote as soon as your sentence (including probation) is completed, but you must re-register. If you’re unable to vote in person on Nov. 7, this website has lots of helpful information on voting by mail.
Last week, Senator Nicholas Scutari (D) introduced his long-awaited bill that would end marijuana prohibition in New Jersey and replace it with a system that regulates and taxes cannabis similarly to alcohol. Please contact your lawmakers and urge them to support S3195.
While Gov. Chris Christie has made no secret of the fact that he would veto such a bill, he is leaving office in January 2018. It’s important to get New Jersey’s lawmakers to discuss this important policy and show their support of ending prohibition now, so that change can happen quickly once a new governor is in office. While Sen. Scutari’s bill doesn’t include every provision in MPP’s model bill — notably not allowing for home cultivation — it would be a dramatic improvement over the status quo. One noteworthy provision would allow people with marijuana possession convictions to expunge their records immediately.
Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators and Gov. Christie — and to DPA’s Compassionate Use Campaign — for making this victory possible. We at MPP are thrilled that patients with PTSD, a devastating mental health condition, will be able to seek relief from medical marijuana where conventional treatments have failed. In addition, the New Jersey Department of Health is currently considering petitions to add additional qualifying conditions to the state’s program.
In recent months, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he does not agree with marijuana legalization and would most likely end the current policy which allows states to determine their own marijuana laws provided they meet certain criteria, earning him a grade of “F” on MPP’s Presidential Report Card.
On Tuesday, Gov. Christie reaffirmed this position, saying that state laws making marijuana legal are numbered if he is elected president. The Huffington Post reports:
“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said Tuesday during a Newport, New Hampshire, town-hall meeting, Bloomberg reports. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”
Christie, one of 16 Republicans campaigning for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has made no secret of his long-held opposition to cannabis. As governor of New Jersey, he has opposed even his own state’s limited medical marijuana program and has called similar laws in 22 other states a “front” for full recreational legalization. He has described taxes generated from the sale of marijuana as “blood money.” And earlier this year in no uncertain terms, he said that, as president, he would “crack down and not permit” recreational cannabis in states that have legalized it.
The New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association now officially supports legalizing the possession of marijuana, which is quite an unlikely source of support, since they are the principle group who prosecutes marijuana users in the state.
“Each week, New Jersey police officers arrest hundreds of citizens for the disorderly persons offense of possession of under 50 grams of marijuana,” said Jon-Henry Barr, president of the board of trustees of the Municipal Prosecutors Association. “Those arrested include professionals and many people who would never think of committing any type of serious, victim-related crime.”
In an interview with Kathleen Hopkins from the Asbury Park Press, Barr enumerated the reasons why a strong majority (seven out of ten) of the association wants to support the legalization of marijuana:
• Requests by prosecutors to analyze samples of marijuana are overwhelming the state’s drug-testing laboratories, sometimes leading to dismissals of cases when defendants invoke their rights to speedy trials;
• Studies show that marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine;
• Marijuana is easier for high school students to obtain than alcohol because the sale of alcohol is strictly regulated;
• Very few of the thousands of DWI cases prosecuted annually are for driving under the influence of marijuana;
• Statistics show that African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white people are, but there is no evidence to show there is disproportionately more marijuana use in minority communities;
• The state loses money by not collecting sales tax on marijuana, while drug dealers profit.
This much-needed support from the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association comes at a pivotal time in the state’s struggle to define its stance on marijuana. Two bills have recently been introduced; one bill permits citizens to carry an ounce or less of marijuana, while the other sets up a tax-and-regulate system.
The opinions expressed by our viewers and posters do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Marijuana Policy Project. These views are those of their individual authors alone. MPP does not condone or support the illegal use of marijuana. We do encourage open and frank discussion, but if a comment has been posted that is in some way significantly inappropriate, please email us at [email protected] to report it. Thank you, and we're looking forward to what you think!
"Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. ... It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record."