The only New Jersey legislator who seems to be concerned about this issue is state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth County. He has introduced a bill to fix this home-grow issue, but so far it hasn’t received enough co-sponsors for state Senate leadership to take it seriously, according to a recent interview.
So, how did New Jersey find itself in this idiotic situation? Last November, the people of New Jersey voted for a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis. But at some point during the negotiations to draft the enabling legislation, the home-grow provisions were cut out of it. Cut out by whom — and for what reason — remains unclear.
Law enforcement is also interested in keeping homegrown cannabis illegal. That could be because police often use the smell of cannabis as a reason to search a home without a warrant. That’s because in most states, the smell of cannabis is still considered “probable cause” that a crime is being committed, which allows police to conduct unreasonable searches without a warrant. When homegrown cannabis is made legal, law enforcement will lose that ability because the smell will no longer indicate that a crime is being committed.
Who stands to benefit from keeping homegrown cannabis illegal in New Jersey? Although there are no such allegations being made in the Garden State, there have been reports of marijuana businesses advocating for a ban on homegrown cannabis to protect their own interests in other states, from New York to Michigan.
Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., Sen. Cory Booker is leading the charge to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Yet somewhere between Booker and Gopal, the New Jersey Democratic Party seems to have lost the script. Advocating for a simple home-grown solution should be a simple policy decision for a political party focused on the people.
But here’s the problem: although it is legal in New Jersey for any adult to buy cannabis, it’s still not legal for anyone to grow a single plant. If a police officer in New Jersey catches anyone growing cannabis, that person can go to prison for five years and face a $25,000 fine — for growing one plant. That is an untenable situation that lacks any legal logic, and it stinks like Mark Sanchez’s mask after the butt fumble.
No one said ending prohibition would be easy. This is what happens when states are left to their own devices without the benefit of a functional Congress. But that’s no excuse for New Jersey to not get this right when the stakes are so high. Real people go to real prison when we get this wrong.
The good news is, it hasn’t been all bad news on the cannabis beat in Trenton. Since July 1, when marijuana legalization took effect, New Jersey has expunged more than 360,000 marijuana convictions while also dismissing pending marijuana cases. The bad news is that expunging their records doesn’t repair the damage done to those 360,000 lives, inflicted by New Jersey’s criminal justice system. To fully correct these injustices of the Drug War, New Jersey must do more than simply expunge some records.
New Jersey is a great place to grow cannabis. But unfortunately, New Jersey is one of two states where adult-use cannabis is legal, but home cultivation is not. It’s possibly the only thing that New Jersey has in common with the other non-homegrow state, Washington, and it’s nothing to be proud of. The good news is: New Jersey can fix it. To paraphrase a former New Jersey official, it’s time for some homegrown in Fort Lee.
Medical patients could grow up to 10 plants. Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, has been pushing for this to open up access to more than 100,000 patients who only have 14 alternative treatment centers to choose from.
There is a question of safety.
Gopal says it would be up to local municipalities whether or not to allow dispensaries or growers.
“It’s going to take at least six months to make our initial rules and regulations, and then only at that point, will they start soliciting adult use licenses. And then it will take another 90 days for those licenses to get considered. And only then can they start the process of opening up,” McQueeny said.
Police can no longer arrest people for possessing marijuana but there is no legal way to buy it right now. Marijuana industry expert Mike McQueeny says this could be a quicker way to access legal weed. Setting up dispensaries will take longer.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, St. Sen. Vin Gopal sponsored a bill to allow anyone 21 and older to grow up to six marijuana plants at home.
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Could New Jersey residents soon be allowed to legally grow marijuana at home?
“Right now, someone is dying out in pain because they don’t have the medicine they need because they can’t afford it,” said Jim Miller, a Toms River activist who pushed for medical marijuana in the 1990s and 2000s and now advocates for home grow. “There’s more to be done.”
In late February, New Jersey became the 13th state to legalize weed for recreational purposes after Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill package allowing the possession, use, sale and taxation of marijuana. The bill package came after more than two-thirds of New Jersey voters backed a marijuana legalization ballot question in November 2020.
The first published link between marijuana use and “4/20” was in a 1991 article in High Times magazine, which called it the “day of celebration, the real time to get stoned, the grandmaster of all holidays.”
New Jersey’s patient advocates have spent the last decade pushing for the right to grow cannabis at home, which activists say would provide a far cheaper option than simply purchasing the state-allotted 3 ounces per month.
A quarter-ounce of medical marijuana was selling for $90 at Zen Leaf Neptune, the state’s newest dispensary, as of Tuesday morning.
“I feel less afraid. I feel more free. That’s what this movement is about,” said Chris Goldstein, an organizer with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “It’s about having greater liberties in this country.
Dozens gathered on the lawn of the New Jersey Statehouse not just to celebrate the unofficial “holiday” of marijuana enthusiasts but to call attention to what they believe are gaps in the 2-month-old legal weed laws.