This is what I hope everyone will be talking about during the League of Municipalities event in Atlantic City where the weather is blessedly mild for this year’s event.
Puff Puff Pass (the Buck)
NJ Legislators are too wishy washy to actually do the work themselves and so marijuana legalization in NJ is headed to the ballot in 2020. We could have done this legislatively, but the NJ Senate couldn’t muster the voters to make it happen.
Or who knows, maybe they stopped trying when yesterday’s Norcross hearing blew up in spectacular fashion.
Not coincidentally, South Jersey is especially hostile to cannabis legalization. Eight of Jersey’s 10 southernmost districts are NO votes on legalization.
And so NJ Senate president Steven Sweeney threw in the towel and kicked the can to the voters.
I was part of the media delegation covering a a dozen or so NJ politicos who trekked to Colorado to learn about their experiences with legalization and to learn from their mistakes.
Don’t do this by referendum they warned us.
“Our constitutional amendments are too detailed and inflexible,” Colorado State Sen. Pat Steadman told the visitors during one informational session.
Senator Sweeney was on that trip. He and his coterie heard this first hand.
“It would be much preferable to address this issue through statute,” Steadman told Leafly in a later follow-up interview. “I would eliminate most of what’s in our constitution and move it all to statute, retaining only the most basic concepts of a right to use, possess, and cultivate and directions to the legislature for creating a regulatory framework for businesses in this industry.”
Declan O’Scanlon was also on that trip but nonetheless he’s all about a referendum now anyway. So in this instance, the forgetfulness is bipartisan. Just don’t say they didn’t warn us because they did warn us.
And in the meantime, NJ locks up 94 people a day for cannabis, mostly in distressed communities.
Vaping and whatnot
A couple months ago I got bronchitis from vaping a bootleg cannabis cartridge. I wrote about it and got considerable reaction from folks across the spectrum on this issue which got me thinking.
Consider this: One one hand we’ve got kids who probably never would have smoked cigarettes but are addicted to nicotine anyway because they vape it. That’s obviously very bad.
On the other hand, there are lots of adults who’ve managed to quit smoking cigarettes using vaping as a harm reduction technique that often leads to kicking the habit altogether. And that’s a good thing.
The NJ legislature is considering legislation to basically ban most vaping products in NJ. This is a reaction to the spate of deaths attributed to vaping although most of those illness and deaths were attributed to faulty, bootleg cannabis cartridges like mine.
There has to be some kind of middle-ground policy that’s not a ban but still manages to protect our kids whose developing brains and lungs leave them especially vulnerable to negative consequences.
Can we please talk about this in Atlantic City?
Jay Lassiter has had it. It probably shows.