Governor Phil Murphy’s attempt to legislatively pass cannabis legalization went up in smoke. When the voice of New Jersey residents, however, spoke 2 to 1 in favor of legalization in the 2020 referendum, Senator Nick Scutari warned of a “crisis” if the legislature failed to introduce–and pass–a bill meeting the demands of the people.
Jo Anne Zito, a veteran of New Jersey’s cannabis crusade, testified on behalf of the legalization effort to the New Jersey senate. She is concerned that residents may be confused as to the legal status of cannabis, post-referendum and still pre-legalization, since a situation exists that simple misunderstandings can lead to a stint in jail and a criminal record. Zito has also championed “home grow” and advocated that state lawmakers need to allow residents to grow their own plants in their own homes for their own use.
Zito discussed Governors Chris Christie and Murphy, social justice, concerns, criminal record expungement, municipal level cannabis bans, and more, based on her personal experiences. The journey started with her arrest for possession and the impact that that has had on her family, her professional life, and personal life.
She has gone on to address state and local lawmakers on marijuana reform for over a decade and has been advocating on behalf of marijuana patients and recreational users who find medical, social, or spiritual satisfaction from marijuana. As New Jersey has, in some ways, led the nation, and in other ways, fallen short of its promises, commercial and political ambitions are often at odds with the needs of end users, combined with resistance from what she calls “prohibitionists”–on both sides of the aisle.