(Trenton) — The weather was befitting the first day of Pumpkin Spice Latte season. The morning chill was in retreat as cannabis advocates descended on Trenton today. They’ve lost patience waiting for the New Jersey legislature to pass meaningful cannabis reform and they’re in NJ’s capital to shame cajole lawmakers into action.
Charlana McKeithen runs Garden State NORML, a group devoted to fixing NJ’s backwards pot laws. She lamented the consequences of any delay to legalization.
“We need to stop arrests now. We have a medical program we’re expanding and we’re revisiting adult use. But in the meantime we’re still locking people up while we sort this out,” Ms McKeithen told InsiderNJ.
The ACLJ-NJ echoed that sentiment.
“Every day that legalization stalls, more than 100 people on average will be arrested on marijuana-related charges in New Jersey,” said ACLU-NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo. “Public support for legalization has skyrocketed in just a few years, but the number of arrests have soared just as dramatically. Our communities are the ones who pay the price, especially communities of color, who are disproportionately arrested on marijuana charges. It’s time to end the steep human and financial costs of marijuana enforcement, and that can only happen through legalization bill that puts racial and social justice front and center.”
NJ Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign platform included cannabis legalization, a position he’s repeatedly brandished since becoming governor. The votes to legalize cannabis are there in the NJ Assembly led by Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19). The holdup lies in the NJ Senate, led by Steve Sweeney whose inability to whip the votes (especially down south) harkens back to the day the Norcross Democrats tanked gay marriage legislation.
Sweeney has indicated willingness to give legalization another go in the lame duck session. But to many it’s Lucy and the football all over again.
Ken Wolski runs the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of NJ.
“Our organization supports Sweeney’s effort to reintroduce marijuana legalization in the legislature in November of 2019 during the lame duck,” Mr Wolski told InsiderNJ. “We realize this legislation won’t have home cultivation in in but we support it nevertheless because of all the good legalization would do like a decrease in mass incarceration.”
Home cultivation would endow the citizens with too much liberty so we can’t have that now can we?
“Our plan to address the needs of the home cultivation adherents is to ask the legislators to introduce a separate bill in 2020 to allow home cultivation for patients enrolled in NJ’s medical cannabis program,” Wolski added.
Edward Forchion, aka NJWEEDMAN (pictured above) topped InsiderNJ’s Cannabis Power List. He is not impressed.
“This isn‘t legalization it’s corporatization,” Forchion told InsiderNJ. “It’s it was legalization, we’d be allowed to grow our own. I’m an entrepreneur but my life got ruined because I sold marijuana off an on for years. I’m selling it now. I’ve got top-self for $250/ounce.”
Crappy weed currently sells for about $500/oz in NJ’s dispensaries. That’s the real crime here.
“Why can’t people like me, people whose lives have been ruined by the war on drugs, why can’t we get into the commercial aspect of this new multi-billion dollar industry?” Forchion added.
Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer and podcaster who’s eager to get the government out of your bong.