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Law New Jersey

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Jersey Lawmakers Send Marijuana And Psilocybin Bills To Governor


New Jersey is one step closer to launching legal marijuana sales as approved by voters last month after the state Senate and Assembly passed landmark legislation Thursday to establish a framework for the new market. The proposal now heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy (D) for his signature.

Both chambers of legislature also approved separate bills to decriminalize possession of up to six ounces of marijuana and reduce criminal charges for the possession of psilocybin. The two provisions were once parts of a single measure, but lawmakers spun off the psychedelic mushroom component into standalone legislation after some took issue with pairing them together.

The marijuana sales legislation (A21/S21)—passed by the Assembly on a 49–24 vote, with six abstentions, and approved by the Senate with a 23-17 tally—is by far the most sweeping of the bills. It has also generated some controversy. Introduced by sponsors just days aftermore than 67 percent of voters approved a marijuana legalization referendum on Election Day, it ran into repeated delays over concerns about social equity, licensing rules and drug testing of workers.

The psilocybin bill cleared the Senate by a 22-15 vote, with three abstentions, and passed the Assembly, 51-22, with six abstentions.

The marijuana decriminalization proposal was approved by the Assembly in a 64-12 vote, with three abstentions, and the Senate approved it, 31-2.

The final cannabis legalization legislation is the result of a compromise announced less than a week ago by top lawmakers and the governor, and includes a number of amendments made in committees earlier this week and only published online for public consumption after the fact on Wednesday afternoon. Sponsors have explained their rush by saying it’s necessary to pass the legislation before the voter-approved legalization of cannabis in the state Constitution takes effect on January 1.

After the deal was reached, the governor and legislative leaders released a joint statement saying the revised legislation “will accomplish our shared goals of delivering restorative justice and ensuring that the communities most impacted by the War on Drugs see the economic benefits of the adult-use cannabis market.”

“This is a historic reform that will have a real-life impact on social justice, law enforcement and the state’s economy. It will launch a new cannabis industry with the potential to create jobs and economic activity at a time when it is desperately needed,” Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) said in a press release after the bill’s passage. “We will now be able to move forward to correct social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color at the same time that marijuana is regulated and made legal for adults.”

Among the most notable changes to the bill since its introduction last month is the inclusion of a social equity excise tax and a provision to route 70 percent of all state marijuana sales tax to so-called impact zones, areas determined by the state to have been disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition. The money would fund legal aid, health care, workforce training and other programs for residents of those areas.

Sweeney, along with Judiciary Committee Chairman Nick Scutari (D), has also proposed a separate 2021 ballot question that would enshrine equity funding as a constitutional amendment and as a result shield the money from being directed to other programs as part of the state’s annual budget process.

While equity advocates have welcomed those changes, the ACLU of New Jersey and others say the new law still wouldn’t do enough to redress racial injustices of the drug war or ensure a path for victims of prohibition to profit from the new industry, as some other legal states have attempted to do.

Jessica Gonzalez, general counsel for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, said this week that she would have liked to see lawmakers add a special social equity status for license applicants. “There’s still a considerable amount of uncertainty surrounding the tax allocation to social equity programs,” she said.

The legislation passed Thursday would give priority to applications for businesses that include a person who has resided in an impact zone for three or more years, or for businesses that plan to hire at least 25 of their employees from impact zones. Gonzalez and others warn that could allow large businesses to move in to a town and hire only a small number of local workers.

Another recent change to New Jersey’s cannabis legislation would limit the state to granting 37 marijuana cultivation licenses to commercial growers during the first two years of legal sales. That could benefit existing medical cannabis producers, who would be allowed to sell to adults over 21 as soon as they certify they have enough supply to meet existing patient demand.

Proponents of dropping the license cap, meanwhile, said removing it would allow a more diverse array of businesses to participate, including those with less access to capital. The legislation does not set a limit on licenses for microbusinesses, or those that employ 10 or fewer people.

Under another recent amendment, employers would be allowed to require workers to take drug tests based on “reasonable” suspicion of cannabis use in addition to pre-employment or regular employee drug screening. Drug tests would need to be done alongside a physical examination done by a person specifically trained to recognize cannabis use, which some businesses have complained would be impracticable.

Meanwhile, legalization advocates have complained that the legislation would continue to criminalize people who grow their own cannabis at home for personal consumption—unlike most other legalized states.

A separate cannabis bill up Thursday for a full vote by the legislature would decriminalize possession of up to six ounces of marijuana. That measure, S2535/A1897, was introduced before voters approved marijuana legalization but would nevertheless still apply, removing criminal and civil penalties for cannabis possession. The commercial sales regulation bill, by contrast, allows legal possession of up to a single ounce of marijuana.

The decriminalization measure would also allow for “virtual” expungements of cannabis possession convictions that occurred prior to the bill’s enactment and prevent police from using marijuana odor as a justification to perform a search.

“Not only are we decriminalizing possession but also first offenses for low-level distribution, a move which will offer individuals a second chance and ensure they do not become entangled in the system the first time they are caught selling small quantities of marijuana,” Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz (D), the bill’s lead sponsor, said in a statement last month. “This is yet another step towards bringing justice and equity to historically impacted communities.”

The marijuana decriminalization bill at one point contained a provision that would also reduce criminal penalties for possession of psilocybin mushrooms, although it would not decriminalize it completely. That amendment was added by Scutari in committee, and then removed over concerns it could derail the broader decriminalization measure.

It was reintroduced as a standalone bill, A5084/S3256 and is also set for final legislative votes on Thursday. The measure would reduce possession of up to one ounce of psilocybin mushrooms to a disorderly persons offense, punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) late last month directed prosecutors to adjourn most marijuana possession cases until at least January 25. Legal sales could kick off early next year, and passage of the decriminalization bill would eliminate the need for most prosecutions for simple possession.

Sweeney, the Senate president, applauded the attorney general’s move. “Now that the people of NJ have spoken,” he wrote in a tweet, “no one should be subject to facing criminal charges for minimal amounts of this substance.”

Meanwhile, Murphy last month appointed an official to lead the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission that will oversee the legal marijuana market.

Also on Thursday, the Senate approved legislation to revise “the restrictions that apply to ownership of or investment in a medical cannabis dispensary and other types of alternative treatment centers,” according to a summary. The vote was 32-8.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

Civil Rights Groups Push New Jersey Governor To Pardon People For Marijuana


A coalition of civil rights and drug policy reform groups is calling on the governor of New Jersey to systematically issue pardons for people with marijuana convictions to supplement the state’s voter-approved move to legalize cannabis.

While lawmakers sent the governor legislation last week that would provide opportunities to have marijuana-related records expunged, the organizations—including ACLU of New Jersey and NAACP New Jersey State Conference—say it does not go far enough to right the wrongs of cannabis criminalization.

In a letter sent to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) that was shared exclusively with Marijuana Moment, the organizations laid out a suggested step-by-step structured pardon plan which would begin this month and escalate through next September.

“New Jersey still, to this day, has very harsh penalties for cannabis related offenses. We have people in prison, jail, on parole, in drug court, and being supervised as a result of conditional discharge due solely to cannabis related offenses,” the groups, which also include Latino Action Network and Salvation and Social Justice, wrote. “While expungements, when they take effect, will help many people, they will not alone help this group of people hit hardest by prohibition.”

The first group that the coalition says the governor should issue pardons for are those currently incarcerated over marijuana or paraphernalia convictions, those in jail awaiting trial for those offenses and non-citizens with felonies for marijuana crimes that are eligible for expungements. Non-citizens with felonies for any cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia related offenses are also priorities, they said.

Next, they say that people on parole or pretrial supervision for cannabis convictions should be granted clemency. After that, Murphy should pardon those in drug court or on probation for the offenses. The list ends with “any person that is being monitored or supervised in any way for offenses involving solely cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia” who isn’t already in one of the groups suggested earlier in the timeline.

“New Jersey is going from full criminalization of cannabis, with harsh penalties and overzealous enforcement, to full legalization. Yet we still have people in jail, prison, on parole or probation, in drug court, or under other supervision due solely to cannabis offenses,” Evan Nison, a national board member for NORML who spearheaded the effort to bring the groups together for the call-to-action for Murphy, told Marijuana Moment.

“I wrote this proposal because it is sometimes easy to claim victory too fast and leave people behind,” he said. “The governor has done a great job at advocating for legalization to help stop cannabis arrests going forward, and helping make expungements easier for people with records. However there are still people who only pardons can help.”

Murphy, when pressed by a reporter earlier this month on whether he has plans to exercise his unilateral clemency powers to help people harmed by marijuana criminalization, ducked the question.

“I don’t have anything to update you on on much of what you’ve asked,” he said. “Clemency and pardons, no news to report.”

A coalition of civil rights and drug policy reform groups is calling on the governor of New Jersey to systematically issue pardons for people with marijuana convictions to supplement the state’s voter-approved move to legalize cannabis.

While lawmakers sent the governor legislation last week that would provide opportunities to have marijuana-related records expunged, the organizations—including ACLU of New Jersey and NAACP New Jersey State Conference—say it does not go far enough to right the wrongs of cannabis criminalization.

In a letter sent to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) that was shared exclusively with Marijuana Moment, the organizations laid out a suggested step-by-step structured pardon plan which would begin this month and escalate through next September.

“New Jersey still, to this day, has very harsh penalties for cannabis related offenses. We have people in prison, jail, on parole, in drug court, and being supervised as a result of conditional discharge due solely to cannabis related offenses,” the groups, which also include Latino Action Network and Salvation and Social Justice, wrote.

“While expungements, when they take effect, will help many people, they will not alone help this group of people hit hardest by prohibition.”

The first group that the coalition says the governor should issue pardons for are those currently incarcerated over marijuana or paraphernalia convictions, those in jail awaiting trial for those offenses and non-citizens with felonies for marijuana crimes that are eligible for expungements. Non-citizens with felonies for any cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia related offenses are also priorities, they said.

Next, they say that people on parole or pretrial supervision for cannabis convictions should be granted clemency. After that, Murphy should pardon those in drug court or on probation for the offenses. The list ends with “any person that is being monitored or supervised in any way for offenses involving solely cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia” who isn’t already in one of the groups suggested earlier in the timeline.

“New Jersey is going from full criminalization of cannabis, with harsh penalties and overzealous enforcement, to full legalization. Yet we still have people in jail, prison, on parole or probation, in drug court, or under other supervision due solely to cannabis offenses,” Evan Nison, a national board member for NORML who spearheaded the effort to bring the groups together for the call-to-action for Murphy, told Marijuana Moment.

“I wrote this proposal because it is sometimes easy to claim victory too fast and leave people behind,” he said. “The governor has done a great job at advocating for legalization to help stop cannabis arrests going forward, and helping make expungements easier for people with records. However there are still people who only pardons can help.”

Murphy, when pressed by a reporter earlier this month on whether he has plans to exercise his unilateral clemency powers to help people harmed by marijuana criminalization, ducked the question.

“I don’t have anything to update you on on much of what you’ve asked,” he said. “Clemency and pardons, no news to report.”

He also avoided directly answering a question about the issue at a press conference he held last month after appointing a top official to oversee the implementation of legal cannabisregulations.


“We’ll have a lot more guidance as to where the world is headed” when cannabis implementation legislation is signed into law, he said.

The bill that’s now on his desk following last week’s votes by the Senate and Assembly does contain some provisions to vacate certain past marijuana convictions, but advocates say that too many people will be left behind without gubernatorial action.

“While the legislation attempts to reduce and cut short punishments for some cannabis offenses, it is extremely limited in which charges it covers and that provision won’t take effect until late 2021,” Nison said. “Pardons are still needed to release people from jail and to allow people to begin getting on with their lives now.“

Also signing the new letter to the governor are New Jersey Policy Perspective, NORML, Marijuana Policy Project, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.

Part of the motivation for the pardon push is that governors in other states have taken that step in the name of restorative justice.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) pardoned thousands of people who had previously been convicted of cannabis possession in December 2019 prior to the first legal marijuana sales in the state. He said in October that more cannabis clemency was coming.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) used a recently enacted law to grant nearly 3,000 pardons for people convicted of possession one ounce of less of marijuana.

In June, more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level marijuana possession in Nevada were automatically pardoned under a resolution from the governor and Board of Pardons Commissioners.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has also issued pardons for cannabis offenses.

While Murphy has yet to announce any plans on clemency of his own, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) late last month directed prosecutors to adjourn most marijuana possession cases until at least January 25.

A majority of New Jersey voters support having the governor take the unilateral clemency action, with 51 percent saying in an October poll that he should pardon marijuana convictions at all levels, rather that just those for simple possession.

In addition to the legalization implementation bill to set up regulations for a legal cannabis market that lawmakers sent to the governor’s desk last week, they also approved legislation to lower the penalties for possessing psilocybin mushrooms.

Meanwhile, the Senate president and other lawmakers are calling for a new constitutional amendment to ensure that tax revenue from marijuana sales goes toward communities most impacted by criminalization.

Read the groups’ full letter and proposed clemency plan for Murphy by following title link and scrolling to the bottom of the article.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been advocating for legalization, is opposed to allowing home cultivation of any kind, for recreational or medical use."​


Gee, can we possibly guess why? Maybe because our despicable and hypocritical professional political class can squeeze any money out of home grow to use to pander to demographics whose votes they are interested in buying. Maybe?

New Jersey is about to legalize cannabis, but home growers could still face up to 20 years in jail


With New Jersey set to legalize recreational cannabis, advocates and researchers are sounding the alarm about legislation that still carries draconian punishments for home growers, Politico reports.
With a Jan. 1, 2021 deadline in mind, neither the proposed legalization bill nor the accompanying decriminalization bill addresses the long-outdated penalties for home growing.

Politico reports that Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been advocating for legalization, is opposed to allowing home cultivation of any kind, for recreational or medical use. A complete ban on home growing would make New Jersey, which is set to become the largest U.S. state on the east coast to legalize cannabis, an outlier compared to other states that have legalized the plant.

As the laws are currently written, growing a single plant could result in three to five years in prison while growing 10 plants could lead to a maximum 20-year sentence if an individual is charged with “maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility.” Additionally, the charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence, requiring those convicted to serve at least a third of the sentence.

Ed Forchion, a cannabis advocate known as “NJ Weedman”, told Politico that the lack of action on addressing the home-growing penalties is evidence that the state is looking to reap profits rather than help the communities that have been most impacted by the War on Drugs.

“Big guys, corporations, they can violate federal law in the state of New Jersey and grow tons of marijuana,” Forchion argued. “But a little housewife down in South Jersey wants to grow 10 plants in her backyard, she’ll be treated as a first-degree felon.”

In an opinion piece at NJ.com, Tom Moran writes that the “draconian penalties” for home growing “are from another era.”

“If we’ve learned anything in the failed drug war, it is this: Long prison terms are not just ineffective, they ruin families, and they are invariably imposed on Black and brown defendants at much higher rates. That leaves them economically crippled for life and widens this country’s crippling racial divide,” Moran notes.
In July, Murphy said cannabis legalization carried “a huge social justice piece.” Noted the governor, “The overwhelming percentage of persons nailed in our criminal justice system are persons of colour. It’s a no-brainer in that respect. It’s a job creator, it’s a tax revenue raiser, it checks a lot of boxes. I hope we’ll get there sooner than later.”

Charles Gormally, an attorney with Brach Eichler law firm and co-chair of the firm’s cannabis industry group, told Politico that he believes the state will change the cultivation laws, eventually.

“I think we’ll get to a place where the contradiction between home-grown cannabis and marketplace cannabis will be reconciled at some level,” Gormally said, adding that the government may be opposed to home cultivation to ensure profits stay in state coffers.
If left uncorrected, he warned that “law enforcement will pivot from worrying about cannabis on the street to worrying about cannabis in your backyard.”
Amol Sinha, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Politico that the ACLU has advocated for home cultivation as “a matter of economic and racial justice.”
“When we have prices that are in the hundreds of dollars per ounce, there’s going to be a subset of the population that’s priced out of it. And growing at home may be the more cost-effective way to grow the particular strains they may need,” Sinha said.
“There’s also the medical angle to this. Having home grow available to medical patients seems to be the logical next step,” he said.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

https://www.marijuanamoment.net/new...nalties-as-legalization-enactment-date-nears/

New Jersey Marijuana Bills Hit Snag Over Underage Penalties As Legalization Enactment Date Nears


There are only days left before a New Jersey voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana goes into effect—but the governor’s concerns over provisions of a separate bill to decriminalize cannabis possession is causing a snag.

Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has generally embraced the pending marijuana policy changes under the dual proposals to implement legalization and decriminalize possession. But language in the latter bill that would remove penalties for people under the age of 21 for possession of marijuana is giving the governor pause about signing off on the legislative package.

Murphy described the issue as “technical” in nature at a press briefing on Monday. That said, he stressed that there are “important things we’re trying to wrinkle out” with the decriminalization legislation.

“I had very constructive—and I want to give them a shout out for their continuing spirit of cooperation—good conversations with the senate president and the speaker,” he said. “Their teams and ours are trying to iron through those as efficiently as we can.”

According to Politico, Murphy wants to sign the measures to legalize retail sales and decriminalize cannabis at the same time, and so isn’t interested in approving the commercialization bill while waiting for lawmakers to address his concerns after the new year.


The technical issue involves how the decrim law would apply to those under 21. As written, penalties would be removed for kids as well as adults. Murphy wants it to be like to alcohol: Legal for adults to possess but penalties for those under 21.
— Matt Friedman (@MattFriedmanNJ) December 28, 2020


In general, the decriminalization proposal would remove criminal and civil penalties for possession of up to six ounces of marijuana. While Murphy is in favor of that policy change, the legislation as passed doesn’t maintain penalties for people under 21, and there’s a desire for youth cannabis possession cases to be treated in the same way as underage alcohol possession.

Separately, the governor also reportedly has issues with language in the sales implementation bill as it relates to decriminalization proposals included therein. Those may also have to be worked out in order for Murphy to sign off.


I’m now told that there’s some potentially problematic language re: decriminalization in the legalization bill as well. So both bills may need to be altered a bit in the clean up legislation.
— Matt Friedman (@MattFriedmanNJ) December 28, 2020


Legislative leaders and the governor recently reached a deal on overall cannabis bills. But while there’s a quickly narrowing timeframe to get that enacted—with legalization set to take effect under a constitutional amendment on January 1—it could be held up due to the decriminalization dispute.

It’s unclear what would happen if there’s a delay in signing the implementation bill into law. Cannabis would be legal for adults under the state Constitution, but there would be no regulated means of obtaining the plant or taxes for the state to collect on retail sales. It seems that, short of a last-minute deal and a hastily called virtual voting session, lawmakers would have to take the legislation back up when they reconvene in 2021.

Murphy could hypothetically sign the legal sales implementation bill while issues are resolved with the decriminalization legislation, but it’s not clear that he’s willing to do that.

Advocates have encouraged the legislature to swiftly enact cannabis sales regulations, but they’ve pushed back on the initial proposal that was introduced, arguing that it did not go far enough to address social equity and restorative justice for communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

The newest version approved this month seeks to address those concerns, but some activists say it is still inadequate.

The most recent bill includes Senate-supported provisions to allocate 70 percent of marijuana tax revenue to community reinvestment programs such as legal aid, workforce training and mentoring.

The Assembly secured a win as well, with negotiators agreeing to include the chamber’s proposal to cap cannabis cultivation licenses at 37 for the first two years. Activists want no caps, as they feel it would limit minority participation in the industry. Microgrow licenses for businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be uncapped.

Tax revenue would also go toward public education and law enforcement training, in addition to covering administrative costs.

At the same time that Murphy is facing pressure to sign legalization and decriminalization measures into law, he’s simultaneously receiving calls from advocates to systematically issue pardons for people with marijuana convictions to supplement the referendum reform.

Murphy, when pressed by a reporter earlier this month on whether he has plans to exercise his unilateral clemency powers to help people harmed by marijuana criminalization, ducked the question.

“I don’t have anything to update you on on much of what you’ve asked,” he said. “Clemency and pardons, no news to report.”

He also avoided directly answering a question about the issue at a press conference he held last month after appointing a top official to oversee the implementation of legal cannabis regulations.

The bill that’s now on his desk following this month’s votes by the Senate and Assembly does contain some provisions to vacate certain past marijuana convictions, but advocates say that too many people will be left behind without gubernatorial action.

The legislature separately sent the governor a bill to lower the penalties for psilocybin. Its provisions had at one point been attached to the marijuana decriminalization bill but some lawmakers took issue with tying the two reform together and so it was separated into its own bill.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Bill On Underage Marijuana Possession Could End New Jersey Legalization Stalemate Between Governor and Lawmakers


New Jersey lawmakers plan to send Gov. Phil Murphy (D) a marijuana “clean-up” bill to address a number of his remaining policy concerns around cannabis, including how the state would deal with people under 21 caught with the drug.

The legislation, which both chambers are expected to take up in the coming week, is believed to be a final step in securing Murphy’s approval as the state scrambles to establish a regulatory framework for legal marijuana. More than two-thirds of state voters approved legalization at the ballot box in November.

Under the new bill, A5211, people between the ages of 18 and 20 would be subject to a $250 civil fine for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, regardless of whether the cannabis was obtained through a licensed store or an illegal dealer. Possessing between one and six ounces would carry a $500 fine.

People under 18, meanwhile, would not be fined but would instead be sent to a juvenile justice court.

The proposal would clarify penalties contained in two separate bills already passed by the legislature that are currently on Murphy’s desk: a measure to establish a regulatory framework for the state’s new marijuana market and another to decriminalize possession of up to six ounces of cannabis. Lawmakers sent both measures to Murphy last month.

Under the existing decriminalization bill, underage possession of marijuana would not carry any penalties. The legalization bill, however, would impose criminal penalties for underage possession of marijuana purchased from legal stores, and it would subject people under 18 to a petty disorderly persons charge.

Murphy’s office said last week that the governor won’t sign either bill until there are clear, noncriminal penalties for people under 21 in order to deter underage use.

The new clean-up bill, filed on Monday by Assemblymembers Annette Quijano (D) and Benjie Wimberly (D), would also make a handful of other technical changes, including directing state police to work with marijuana regulators to develop standards for “workplace impairment recognition experts,” who would be responsible under the legalization bill for determine whether employees are high on the job.

A Senate version of the bill is also in the works, although language of that measure was not immediately available.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D), who sponsored the legalization bill and has pushed colleagues to pass it as quickly as possible, told reporters on Tuesday that the Senate version of the bill may differ slightly from the Assembly’s version.

“It’s being re-cleaned up as we speak,” Scutari told NJ.com. “That bill that the Assembly has, although it’s very close, it’s not going to be exactly what we’ll introduce.”

Unnamed sources in the Murphy administration have also indicated that the bill represents growing agreement between lawmakers and the governor, although further changes could still be made. “It’s the consensus bill, but the final language is still being tweaked,” one administration official told Politico.

The Senate Judiciary and Assembly Appropriations Committees are set to take up their respective chambers’ versions of the bill on Thursday, according to the state’s legislative calendar. Presumably the panels will move to make the two identical. Both chambers of the full legislature could then vote to send the clean-up legislation to Murphy as soon as Monday.

Already the state is in a precarious position with regard to the legality of marijuana. The voter-approved constitutional amendment legalizing the drug took effect on January 1, but because the regulatory bill has not been signed, existing laws against cannabis possession and use are still in effect.

Meanwhile, State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) said in November that prosecutors should use discretion and suspend marijuana possession cases until the regulatory bill becomes law, although city- and county-level prosecutors could still bring charges. The fate of people arrested and charged in the meantime could be decided by potential court challenges to the constitutionality of the criminal statutes that for now remain on the books.

Scutari and other lawmakers first introduced the marijuana regulatory bill in November, just days after voters approved the legalization referendum, and the bill has encountered repeated delays on its route to the governor’s office. Many have complained that during the process, the language of the latest versions of the constantly changing bill was often unavailable for review by either lawmakers or the public.

“This whole situation could have been avoided if lawmakers, advocates, & the public actually had time to read the bills & provide feedback,” Amol Sinha, the executive director of ACLU of New Jersey, said on Twitter late last month. “Better process yields better policy, but here we are. We’ve been at this for YEARS.”
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

Marijuana Is Now Supposed To Be Legal In New Jersey, But It’s Not


While marijuana should have been legal for residents as of New Year’s Day, all the political figures responsible for making that happen failed.
Marijuana was supposed to be legal in New Jersey at the turn of the New Year, but it isn’t safe to use it just yet.

When the voters hit the polls in the November 2020 general election, they overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure calling for the existence of a taxed and regulated pot market. It basically called for adults 21 and older to have the right to purchase weed like they would alcoholic beverages.

Somewhere around 2.7 million voters said yes to pot. And they expected to get it come January 2020. But despite being given two months to reach some agreement on the rules surrounding reefer, New Jersey lawmakers have failed to show the state how the legal system is going to work.

“There are no implementing laws and there are no regulations by the new commission that’s being created,” Robert Williams, a retired constitutional law professor at Rutgers Law School, said in an interview with the Asbury Park Press. “It’s an odd situation, actually, that the people can vote for something and literally the Legislature can block it by doing nothing.”

While marijuana should have been legal for New Jersey residents as of New Year’s Day, all the political figures responsible for making that happen failed. State lawmakers and the Cannabis Regulatory Commission were charged with hashing out the legal framework for how marijuana would join civil society. Still, arguments over taxes and reparations for communities abused by the drug war have prevented them from coming to terms. The outcome means that marijuana exists in a bizarre political purgatory that could prevent it from actually going legal well into 2021.

Even state lawmakers understand just how inefficient they are at realizing legalization. It’s the reason a slew of separate proposals have been championed as of late to decriminalize small-time possession and put a leash on cannabis arrests. But the state legislature can’t even get it together long enough to see those to fruition.
The situation is frustrating enough, as is. But toss in the fact that Governor Phil Murphy and the State legislature have been trying for years to legalize weed, and frustration doesn’t even begin articulating the scene. Embarrassing and incompetent does. The whole reason the voters were asked to decide on legal weed is that lawmakers couldn’t seem to agree on whether they should do it and how it should be established.

Pandemic Boosts Marijuana Legalization Support In New Jersey

Photo by SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images
It’s now 2021, the voters have spoken favorably, and the suits are still standing in the way of progress.

Until lawmakers and regulatory officials can get it together on legal marijuana, state prosecutors still consider it a crime.

“All of the state’s criminal laws relating to marijuana continue to apply, until, among other things, the Legislature enacts a law creating that regulatory framework,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement. “It is important that residents accurately understand the current situation, so they do not inadvertently engage in criminal conduct relating to marijuana — conduct that may be legal in the future once the Legislature acts, but is not presently legal based on [November’s] vote.”

The attorney general’s office also said it would issue some additional guidance on pot prosecutions, but only after lawmakers made good on their end. For now, law enforcement has “broad discretion” on how they treat low-level marijuana offenses. They can choose to arrest these people, slap them with a fine or just forget about it altogether. But it’s going to take putting the legal system into place before cannabis users can be sure their actions won’t be considered criminal.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Oh, New Jersey....so glad I don't live there. Fucking politicians...sigh


N.J. legal weed deal between Murphy and lawmakers suddenly collapses in stunning development

Just as it seemed Gov. Phil Murphy’s office and the state Legislature had come to an agreement that would end a years-long struggle to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, opposition from lawmakers has derailed the effort in another bizarre twist in the saga, NJ Advance Media has learned.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, who sponsored a “cleanup” bill (S3320) to address Murphy’s call to add penalties for underage use of marijuana, said Friday afternoon that measure will not go up for a vote in the full Senate on Monday after other senators objected to it.

The governor has declined to sign bills passed last month to legalize and decriminalize weed without changes that enact penalties for those under 21 caught with marijuana. He called the issue “technical but important.”

The legalization and decriminalization bill had discrepancies; one sought to do away with penalties for all ages possessing up to six ounces of marijuana, and the other made underage possession a disorderly persons offense.

The cleanup bill sought to create uniform, mild penalties. That walked back a previous attempt by lawmakers to end punishments for marijuana possession.

But it fell apart on Friday afternoon, even though Scutari had presided over a Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday that advanced the bill by a vote of 7-3, and just hours after the governor’s office said Murphy approves of the bill and would sign it into law if it passed the Legislature Monday.

Scutari said Friday he was removing his name as a sponsor of the cleanup bill, marking a full 180 on the measure after members of the Senate expressed fierce opposition. Nearly two weeks of work and negotiations between the administration and lawmakers collapsed in one afternoon.

“We’re satisfied with the bill that we gave them, and we want them to take action on that bill,” he said, referring to the original bill to legalize that the Legislature passed in mid-December.

He said Murphy will have to veto or sign the bill as is, and that the Senate is done with the issue until then.

“It’s a change in policy,” Scutari said. ”They thought it was technical, but it’s not.”

He said he agrees with other lawmakers that the change could lead to more arrests of Black youth.


“In the 11th hour, the governor has proposed legislation that will disproportionally and unfairly hurt communities of color,” state Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union, who sponsored legalization bill, said in a statement. “The governor can’t hold legislation hostage in an effort to further target over-policed communities and place a de facto tax on poor people whose children may suffer from drug abuse and addiction. This proposal is regressive, draconian and ethically perverse.”


The Assembly also pulled the vote on the cleanup bill from its Monday session on Friday evening.


A spokesperson for the governor’s office declined to say if Murphy will sign or veto the legalization bill on his desk.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
"Why lawmakers won't allow it?"

This is a question for Mr. Obvious. haha

Cause they can't tax it and make money off of home grow....that's why....and I don't believe that's argued as the reason anywhere in this puff piece.

Anything else is, IMO, total BS.

New Jersey: Medical marijuana patients just want to grow their own weed. Why lawmakers won’t allow it.


When Jo Anne Zito was initially arrested for at-home cultivation nearly 10 years ago, her kids were taken away from her. Though her charge was later downgraded to low-level possession thanks to a grand jury, she’d already gotten a taste of how severely those who grow cannabis at home are criminalized.
Only after completing a pricey drug rehabilitation program was she legally eligible to receive custody, on top of serving three years of probation. Her husband, now deceased, was also charged and sentenced to drug court.

Three-and-a-half years into his sentence, he died while fulfilling the intense requirements of the program, Zito, board member at the Coalition for Medical Marijuana—New Jersey (MMNJ), told the state Senate in December during her public testimony in favor of at-home cannabis cultivation.

Under the proposed legislation on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk, at-home cultivation (or home-grow) still remains severely criminalized.

“I don’t want to be in the business, I just want to grow and be left alone. Legalize me,” she said during testimony.

As lawmakers finalize the details of New Jersey’s cannabis legalization and decriminalization policies, at-home cultivation hasn’t been considered to be included in the coming reform measures by state lawmakers.

Though the recent “clean-up” bill (S3550) loosens penalties for anyone carrying less than six ounces of cannabis, it also forbids anyone to “create, distribute, or possess or have under his control with intent to distribute, a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance.”



Despite how much work has already been put into legislative sessions, there are still plenty of gaps in the legislation. Ryan Magee, cannabis attorney at Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti, attributes this to how much time and support is available to adequately address the topic.

“Managing the program from ‘seed to sale’ as we say is the most conservative way for a state to go about doing that, so homegrow in general is a pretty complex variable I think that lawmakers now believe they don’t have the time — and frankly, the vote — to adequately address at the moment,” he said.

However, there was once support for at-home cultivation in the legislature, Zito emphasized during an interview for this story. Over a decade ago, lawmakers previously discussed at-home cultivation while drafting the state’s medical marijuana program. Though it wasn’t included in the final draft of the Compassionate Use for Medical Marijuana Act signed by Gov. Jon Corzine, there was once a “grow-at-home” provision permitting registered patients to grow six plants at home without penalty.

Additionally, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, previously supported the pardon of John Jay Wilson, a multiple sclerosis patient who grew his own cannabis. Though he only served five months of his five-year sentence, he was mandated to the Intensive Supervision Program, New Jersey’s drug court program Zito’s husband was also legally required to complete.

“They voted for it then, why would they have a problem with it now?” Zito said.

Back in 2009, opponents compared the state’s proposed measure to California’s Proposition 215, which permits medical patients to grow at home. Since California was the first ever in the United States to implement a state-regulated medical marijuana program, they faced tremendous criticism from all over the country. Admittedly, the Golden State was the first test run of how such a program would operate legally.

Bill sponsors responded to this criticism by shifting decision-making power to the Department of Health, which limited the amount of usable marijuana a patient can have to one ounce per month. However, the Assembly health committee soon scrapped the provision permitting at-home cultivation entirely from the bill.
“We want seeds and clones to buy like in other legalized states,” Zito told lawmakers.

At-home cultivation isn’t as radical an idea as New Jersey lawmakers make it seem. Currently, 17 states, in addition to Washington DC, allow at-home cultivation for adults 21 and over.

Some states impose more restrictions on which of-age residents can grow at home. Although Nevada and Arizona of-age residents can grow recreationally, they must live at least 25 miles away from a dispensary. Additionally, Missouri law only allows medical marijuana patients to grow at home, who must pay a $100 fee.

Others have more progressive measures. Alaska permits anyone 21 years or older to cultivate six plants. Additionally, Massachusetts allows cultivation of up to a dozen plants if there two of-age residents in the household. Yet even these measures have clear rules, like banning public consumption and allowing employers to make their own policies.

If at-home cultivation continues to be ignored in this round of legalization measures, Magee said reform could happen in the future. “I certainly wouldn’t discount the possibility of amendments eventually being made to the law moving forward to account for,” he added. “Ultimately, [lawmakers are] going to need the votes to do that and I think the general population of New Jersey will have to be on board with that.”
As lawmakers configure their constituents’ support for what they want in legalization measures, recent data shows New Jersey residents know what they don’t want. According to a 2018 Rutgers University poll, 60% New Jersey voters disagree with a ban that’d forbid residents from growing their own cannabis at home.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member

New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Clean-Up Marijuana Bill To Resolve Governor’s Underage Concerns


A New Jersey Assembly committee on Friday approved a “clean up” bill intended to clear the way to implement the legalization of marijuana—the latest development on lawmakers’ rocky path to enact the cannabis referendum voters approved in November.

Enabling legislation to create a regulated market was introduced and passed by the legislature shortly after last year’s vote, but Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said after the fact that opposed the lack of penalties for underage possession. Lawmakers attempted to resolve that with an earlier bill to address the youth possession issue, but a floor vote was cancelled after key legislators pulled their support.

Now, it seems, there could be a new compromise.

Under the latest proposal, adults 18 to 20 would face a $50 fine for possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and a $100 fine for more than that amount. Those under 18 would not not be subject to the civil penalty but would be given a warning.

What does this clean-up bill do?
It clarifies consequences and reduces contact with the criminal legal system for youth, including:
A $50 fine for possessing 1 oz or less + $100 for more than 1 oz or any use for youth aged 18-20
Warnings and interventions for youth under 18
— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) January 29, 2021


These are lower penalties compared to the last compromise bill, and the new version seems to have to support of advocates such as the ACLU of New Jersey. But its fate in the full Assembly, the Senate and at Murphy’s desk are not clear at this point.

The new legislation would also form a task force charged with making recommendations to the governor and lawmakers on “law enforcement activities to address the enforcement of underage possession or consumption of marijuana, hashish, or cannabis items, as well as the broader issue of underage possession or consumption of these substances.”

The ACLU said that the panel’s creation “lays the groundwork for future reforms, providing a clearer look into how enforcement is carried out in practice. If racial disparities persist—we’ll know.”


The harms of cannabis prohibition have gone on for far too long. Legalization and decriminalization must go into law ASAP.
We thank the Legislature for pushing A5342 closer to the finish line and look forward to working together to make NJ's current cannabis laws more just.
— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) January 29, 2021


The Assembly committee vote could provide a lifeline to other marijuana reform legislation that’s been transmitted to Murphy—namely, a bill to implement legal marijuana sales and a separate decriminalization measure that he threatened to conditionally veto if lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on revised legislation by Friday.

The governor’s deadline to sign the legislation is currently expected to be February 8, which is the next time the Assembly is set to hold a quorum, but it could be earlier than that if legislative leaders move the schedule up.

In addition to the revised penalties for underage cannabis offenses, the new bill also stipulates that the odor of marijuana alone “shall not constitute reasonable articulable suspicion to initiate a search of a person” by law enforcement.

The Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee approved the proposal in a 4-2 vote on Friday. It now heads to the full floor for consideration.

Legislators who opposed the previous clean up bill over concerns that it would disproportionately affect youth of color aren’t necessarily celebrating the revised version, as it seems to simply water down penalties for young people that were included in the earlier legislation. That version would have imposed fines of up to $500 for adults 18 to 20 who unlawfully possess marijuana and warnings or mandatory drug treatment programs for those under 18.

“Many issues that I think we missed, unfortunately, came back,” Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D), sponsor of the new bill, told NJ.com. But the proposal is consistent with “what the voters of New Jersey asked for when we came to this, but protecting our youth,” he said.

Murphy said during a press briefing on Wednesday that there “are two principles that have guided us on this, other than we got to support it as a general matter for social justice reasons.”

“The two principles are—which I’ve stated earlier many times—number one, the last thing any of us want is our kids getting tied up in the criminal justice system, especially kids of color,” he said. “And secondly, the voters voted to legalize adult use marijuana. It said it right on the referendum, 21 and up, that’s always been the case.”

“Getting both of those principles respected is not an easy process and that’s what we’re trying to do,” the governor added. “I thank the legislators who are working really hard with us to try to get that.”

In a separate legislative development this week, Sen. Gerry Cardinale (R) filed a bill to legalize home cultivation of marijuana, something that’s not currently allowed under the referendum implementation legislation on Murphy’s desk.

The governor pledged in a State of the State address earlier this month that the state is “on the verge of passing an innovative and groundbreaking set of laws to reform our historically unjust approach to marijuana and cannabis.”

Meanwhile, public crime data shows that, at least in New Jersey’s largest city of Newark, police are continuing to make busts for cannabis possession, despite the November vote and despite a call by the state attorney general for prosecutors to suspend low-level marijuana cases.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Under the latest proposal, adults 18 to 20 would face a $50 fine for possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, and a $100 fine for more than that amount. Those under 18 would not not be subject to the civil penalty but would be given a warning.
And this legislation....required by the NJ referendum....was held up for this shit ^^. FFS

And I think this will be the last article I'll post on NJ until they actually do something....like Murphy signing the the fucking bill!

New Jersey Wants Home Cultivation for Cannabis

Every new location to legalize cannabis either recreationally or medically, comes up with its own set of rules for exactly what is legal. After the last US election, there were a few new additions to the legalization family, one of them being New Jersey, which legalized for recreational use. However, the State didn’t get everything it wanted. New Jersey wants home cultivation of cannabis to be legalized for its citizens, and right now, it is still not.


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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 was the date of the last US presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. It was also the day that several states held referendums to allow their voters to decide certain issues, one of the biggest of which was the legalization of cannabis. Many states held votes for the legalization of medical cannabis, recreational cannabis, or both (in the case of South Dakota). When the results of the election came in, four new states had gone legal recreationally: South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, and New Jersey.


The New Jersey referendum


On November 3rd, the people of New Jersey were given the right to vote for or against a recreational cannabis policy through Public Question 1 on their ballot. Approximately 67% of the voting population answered ‘yes’ on this ballot measure, legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults 21 years of age, or older. The bill legalized the cultivation, processing, and selling of cannabis commercially.


Public Question 1 acted as a constitutional amendment. The ability for this was passed as a resolution by the New Jersey State Legislature in December 2019, which was supported by 72 out of 79 democrats, and disapproved by 36 of 41 republicans. New Jersey, and the use of Public Question 1 on the ballot, marks the first time that a state legislature has referred a legalization measure onto its voters.


home grow cannabis



In states like Vermont and Illinois, the measure was passed by the state legislature, and in all other states, ballot measures were used in which campaigns were set up to collect signatures in order to be able to put the question on the ballot. New Jersey doesn’t have such a ballot initiation process, and it was the state legislature that made the decision to pass the vote onto the people.


The whole reason this referendum came up (and was forwarded onto the people), is because of a failed measure prior to it, in which the government was not able to pass a law to legalize cannabis. With the election in 2017 which brought on Governor Phil Murphy, and President of the Senate Stephen Sweeney – whose goal it was to get a marijuana legalization bill passed within Murphy’s term, there was much drive to get cannabis over the line into legal adult-use. The team pulled off what they were hoping for, in getting a recreational cannabis bill passed.


The regulation of this new industry is overseen by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), a five-member group established in 2019, to oversee the medical marijuana program, which was originally legalized in 2010 under the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. A law that was improved on in 2013 so that patients under 18 could consume medical marijuana edibles, and then again in 2019, when ‘Jake’s Law’ was signed in honor of Jake Honig, a child fighting cancer who was using medical cannabis treatments. That update substantially opened up medical cannabis, making it accessible to more patients, easier to acquire, and eligible in increased amounts. However, it did not come with a legalization for home growing for medical use.






The new recreational cannabis industry in New Jersey will use the standard state sales tax rate of 6.625%, with an additional requirement added into the legislation that local governments can add as much as 2% tax only. If no other taxes are imposed, like an excise tax, this would mean New Jersey would have substantially lower tax rates than its compatriot states, some of which have leveraged a total of as much as 30%.


What the ballot did not indicate, was anything to do with how much a person could possess, a regulation structure for selling, or rules for home cultivation. All of these specifics were dependent on the CRC enacting new laws to clarify. This means that at the time of the vote, the people of New Jersey had no way of knowing if New Jersey would legalize the home cultivation of cannabis.


New Jersey and home cultivation of cannabis​


New Jersey made great progress in the last few years, expanding its medical marijuana program, and pushing for the recreational legalization, which was aided by the entrance of Governor Phil Murphy. However, not every legalization was created equally, and in the case of New Jersey, the legalization was confirmed to not cover home cultivation of cannabis. Meaning, while it might now be legal to buy, sell, and use cannabis recreationally, it is still illegal for an individual to cultivate the plant in their own home. In fact, it’s still a felony. And New Jersey is the only legalized state to hold this contradiction. Any growing, for any reason – recreational or medical is illegal. But it is legal both recreationally and medicinally for use.


home cultivation



In mid-December, the follow-up laws were passed in a State Senate committee, from which it was scheduled for a full floor vote. When the new law passed the committee, it was noted that a copy of the bill was not released to the public with the most current wording, which made it a bit odd for advocates speaking in its favor, who only knew the general idea of what they were speaking to, and not the specifics.


What was made clear at that time, though, was that cultivation would not be legalized, and the only way to legally procure cannabis, would be via a licensed state cultivation facility. Though the bill is obviously being supported by cannabis advocates, this omission has greatly angered those fighting for legalization, as it means stiff penalties including jail time for something that was just made legal. In the end, it also creates a lot of legal gray area.


Said New Jersey American Civil Liberties Union, executive director Amol Sinha, “We supported it, but it’s not perfect… We’ve been advocating for home grow for the better part for decade now.” He went on to say, “It’s absolutely crucial from a racial and economic justice perspective, as well as a health care perspective.” Citing the current situation, he reminded, “People shouldn’t be forced into going to dispensaries for specific strains they need right now during COVID… It would be so much easier if they had access to their own supply, but we just prohibit that. And what’s worse, we punish it severely in New Jersey.”


New Jersey’s current laws for cultivation, post – Public Question 1 – are that up to five pounds (or 10 plants), is a 3rd degree crime which comes with a punishment of 3-5 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Growing 5-25 pounds (10-50 plants) is a 2nd degree crime, punishable with 5-10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. If a person grows above 25 pounds (50+ plants), it’s considered a 1st degree crime, which incurs 10-20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $300,000. In the case of a 1st degree crime, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years is imposed. This is a lot of prison time, and a lot of cash, for growing a plant which is otherwise legal to use.


Where are we now?


The law was originally scheduled to be enacted officially on January 1st, 2021. But, as tends to be the case, this did not happen, and as of February 1st, the law is still not updated. Disagreements over what to do about underage users ended up tanking discussions. This is partly because New Jersey actually passed two measures, not one. One is the bill being spoken about which legalized adult-use cannabis and the establishment of a regulation system. The other is a law that decriminalizes the possession of up to six ounces.


The decriminalization bill doesn’t come with penalties for underage users, essentially allowing cannabis use for anyone of any age. The legalization bill, however, comes with criminal penalties for underage users. The governor is requiring a 3rd ‘clean-up’ bill to account for this contradiction. The governor has until February 8th to sign the new legislation.


A clean-up bill was proposed in early January, but opposition led to its cancellation, as there was fear it would mean the targeting of black kids, which would greatly undermine any social-justice improvements that a legalization policy intends. Late last week, a new clean-up bill moved past the New Jersey Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee, which hasn’t seen the same pushback as the previous one, while offering nothing but a lowering of the fine an 18-20 year old would have to pay if caught.


As the debate for how to deal with this discrepancy goes on, now three months after the legalization measure was voted in, that other issue of cultivation has not been forgotten. In a strange turn, a republican senator – Gerald Cardinale – is the primary sponsor for a new bill that would make it legal in New Jersey for the home cultivation of up to six cannabis plants.


Cardinale made the very astute point that “The people of New Jersey made it clear in November that they want to lift the prohibition on cannabis… Since then, the Legislature has spent three months fumbling around with what should have been a simple task, and complicated the legalization effort with countless fees, licensing and extra layers of bureaucracy.”


Advocates in New Jersey have been fighting to legalize home cultivation of cannabis for medical use for years, with this new recreational legalization making it that much more frustrating that this still hasn’t happened. Cardinale, for the record, never even supported legalization. His bill is contingent on the governor signing the legalization bill.


Conclusion


Considering how marijuana policies go, the question right now is, will this legislation really be signed by the 8th, or pushed back for some longer amount of time? We will find that out in a few days, but we might not get an answer on the cultivation issue. For now, New Jersey either wants to keep taking money off illegal growers, or protect the commercial industry from being hurt by home growers (are there ever other reasons?) Regardless, New Jersey will likely have to wait a bit longer to get its home cultivation for cannabis passed. At least for now, legislation is on its way, making it generally legal recreationally. And that is definitely something
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Ok, I lied....NJ MJ politics is just a gift that keeps on giving

"Lawmakers extended a Monday deadline for Murphy to act on legislation that would begin the process of selling marijuana,"

Why?


Deadline On NJ Marijuana Legalization Delayed

Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers continue to struggle to strike a deal that will allow New Jersey to begin the process of selling marijuana in New Jersey. But they're also raising hopes that some agreement could be reached soon.
Lawmakers extended a Monday deadline for Murphy to act on legislation that would begin the process of selling marijuana, signaling that all sides may be able to work out issues that have prevented a deal from happening.
Murphy, speaking during a news conference on Monday, said he's had a "good back and forth" and that he's hopeful that any issues can be resolved soon. Read more: WATCH: Gov. Murphy Issues NJ Coronavirus, Vaccines Update
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin extended the deadline to Feb. 18, allowing the Senate to "complete its discussions and conclude negotiations with the Assembly and governor on revisions to the cannabis legislation."
The legislation would address Murphy's concerns that the state Legislature's bill doesn't penalize underage adults and children for using the drug.
"Voters overwhelmingly support the legalization of cannabis and we are taking every step necessary to assure legalization and decriminalization become law," Coughlin said.
"Significant progress has been made and we are hopeful that concerns raised will be able to be addressed. I remain optimistic an agreement will be reached and that fair and responsible legislation will be advanced which will facilitate A-21 and A-1897 becoming law," he added.
Murphy was expected to sign the legislation, which could have led to a marijuana marketplace in about six months for people 21 and older. But he has so far declined to sign the bill, even though he had signaled his support for it.
Lawmakers pulled bill last month that would have addressed the Murphy administration's objections to legal issues in the legislation, A-21.
Voters already approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, which went into effect on Jan. 1. The legislation is now needed to officially create the framework for legalizing the personal use of the drug, decriminalize the substance and remove it from the Schedule I drug list.
Until the legislation is passed, it's still not technically legal to use the drug in New Jersey. Read more: NJ Marijuana Enters Weird, Legal Limbo – Is It OK To Smoke Yet?
Talks collapsed last month over Murphy's efforts to make sure there were penalties for underaged, under-21 users.
The Murphy administration and state legislative leaders came up with a compromise that addressed those penalties, but lawmakers ultimately abandoned it last month.



Lawmakers pulled their support because a new "cleanup bill" would impose penalties that were considered too harsh on minors charged with possession of the drug.
Democratic Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, told Politico that removing the penalties for underage offenders was the Legislature's original intent. Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, told Politico that the cleanup bill's provisions would merely lead to another form of "stop-and-frisk."
Murphy, addressing the matter during a news conference last month, said he's "still optimistic we're going to figure something out" on legalizing marijuana but he also said "we've got to somehow thread the needle" to address everybody's concerns.
Murphy said the last thing he wants is "more kids getting tangled up in the criminal justice system. None of us want that. Period."
But he also said: "This was never about legalizing marijuana for our kids."
"That was never what this was about. That's not what the voters voted on in the referendum. That's not what we've felt strongly and passionate about," he said.
The cleanup bill would have provided that:
  • Anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 in possession of marijuana or any cannabis item in any school, motor vehicle or public place could be fined between $50 and $250.
  • Anyone between the ages of 18 and 20 who possesses marijuana or cannabis and knowingly consumed the drug in any school, motor vehicle or public place would be fined an amount between $100 and $500.
  • Minors under the age of 18 in possession of marijuana or cannabis would not be subject to a civil penalty. Instead, they would be subject to a curbside warning or "stationhouse adjustment," allowing law enforcement agencies to resolve a violation without formal court proceedings. They could also be required to participate in an alcohol or drug abuse education or treatment program.
  • The stationhouse adjustment would establish one or more conditions that the person would be required to meet in exchange for the law enforcement agency declining to pursue a formal delinquency complaint.
The delays come two months after the state New Jersey Assembly and Senate voted in favor of legislation that clears the way and creates a framework for marijuana legalization. The bill needed Murphy's signature to become law, but he never acted on it.
Sen. Anthony M. Bucco, R-Morris, said the deal's delays echoes his concerns that "the process to legalize marijuana moved way too quickly and was backwards from the beginning."
"There are extremely complex criminal, regulatory, social, and tax implications that should have been figured out before a question was placed on the ballot," he said.
The specific regulatory process has not been finalized, and some state officials have said that it could take anywhere from 6 months to a year for the drug to be sold in stores. Any delay in legislation will likely delay the selling of the drug in New Jersey.
Lawmakers and advocates say the legislation will ultimately create a framework for legalization that benefits communities who have disproportionately been affected by drug arrests.
Much of the earlier debate over the bill initially centered around two aspects: tax revenue and social justice. Often, those two things are connected.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Nicholas Scutari and Senator Teresa Ruiz say tax revenue from the drug will be dedicated to repairing heavily impacted communities.
Sweeney and Scutari say about 30 percent of the sales tax revenue from legal cannabis would fund the operations of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, the state board charged with overseeing New Jersey's recreational and medical marijuana programs.
The remaining 70 percent of the sales tax revenue – and 100 percent of a "social equity excise fees" on cultivators – would aid "impact zones," the communities hurt most by drug laws, Scutari and Sweeney said.
"With legalization comes an unprecedented opportunity for residents to clean the slate with expungement provisions and for communities to grow their economic base with businesses," said Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union.
Other key details of the legalization bill, A-21, include:
  • A cap on the number of cannabis facilities at 37 for the first 24 months after enactment of the legislation
  • Municipalities can prohibit marijuana businesses in their communities, but those that choose to allow them could collect a 2 percent tax and retain the revenue.
  • There will be business incentives for minorities, women and disabled veterans to help them participate in the industry
With reporting from Eric Kiefer and Montana Samuels.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
1613582526170.png


New compromise offered to finally end dispute holding up N.J. legal weed


Lawmakers have introduced a new proposal for penalizing those under 21 who are caught with marijuana, a move that could bring Gov. Phil Murphy closer to signing a bill to legalize weed.
But this bill must receive committee approval Monday and pass both the state Senate and Assembly by next Thursday, the latest deadline for Murphy to take action on bills to establish a legal marijuana industry and another to end arrests for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

If it does not, Murphy will have to act on the bills as they are.

Voters said yes to legalizing marijuana in a landslide election in November, and lawmakers passed the legalization and decriminalization bills by mid-December.

But Murphy has said he will not sign the bills until they establish uniform, civil penalties for those under 21 caught with marijuana. The current bills are at odds with one another, with one eliminating all penalties for possessing up to six ounces of marijuana and the other making underage possession a disorderly persons offense.

Debates on how to handle those penalties have stalled the bills for six weeks. In that time, police filed more than 2,000 charges for minor marijuana possession, according to the state judiciary.


Lawmakers introduced an initial “cleanup bill”, which would make changes to the two bills already passed, to move talks forward in early January.

But that died days before it was scheduled to go to both the Senate and Assembly floors.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Passaic, introduced a similar, second cleanup bill two weeks ago that has passed through a committee.

The latest, introduced Friday, calls for civil penalties like warnings and fines like Wimberly’s bill, but makes some changes. People ages 18 to 20 caught with marijuana would face $50 fines, and those younger would receive written warnings that escalate upon each offense.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has a meeting scheduled Monday to debate the latest bill.

Under the proposal, a first juvenile offense would result in a written warning, a second as a written warning that also involves parents and the third as a $50 fine or community service if the person is unable to pay.

Police could not search someone based only upon smelling marijuana or detain people past the point of issuing a fine or warning. Officers must have body cameras on while interacting with an underage person.

The bill also requires police to undergo trainings on how to interact with underage people caught with marijuana and on avoiding implicit racial bias in enforcing the penalties.

It also includes specific offenses for those of age who provide marijuana to those under 21 that resemble penalties for selling tobacco to minors.

People caught selling marijuana to those underage would also face escalating fines, starting at $250 for a first offense up to $1,000. And someone who knowingly purchases marijuana on behalf of a person under 21 could face 30 days in jail or a fine of $500.

The latest bill includes more protections from police for young people, which could make it more favorable to those who opposed the last penalty bill. The previous effort fell apart after members of the Black Legislative Caucus said they feared the enforcement could disproportionately target Black and brown youth.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member

N.J. can resume issuing new medical marijuana licenses after court ruling settles lawsuit


The state can resume its review of nearly 150 medical marijuana license applications that have sat untouched for more than a year, thanks to a ruling from a state appellate court Thursday.


The court ruled against all but one medical marijuana license applicant rejected by the Department of Health in 2019. It upheld the department’s denial of seven other applications.


The case, which consolidated eight applicants rejected in an initial review, halted the expansion of New Jersey’s strained medical marijuana program in late 2019 when the court granted a stay in the process. Now, with the stay lifted, the Health Department can reopen its review of 146 applications the state put on hold and resume the process of issuing as many as 24 new licenses.




No matter the ruling, these paused applicants were always going to see victory in a decision that gets the process restarted and inches them closer to attaining a license.




The new licenses will not only ease burdens to medical marijuana for the state’s 100,000 registered patients, but also set New Jersey up for the 21 and older marijuana market. Medically-licensed facilities are slated to get the first shot at selling to the public.




But they will likely take months to a year to open, even after the health department makes its final decisions.




The applicants sued in late 2019 and claimed the Health Department wrongly rejected them during a first round of cuts because reviewers could not open corrupt PDF files.








But the court decision noted applicants were given clear instructions about deadlines, and that the department even held a webinar to help them prepare for submission.




Others sued over the denials based on a lack of local approval to operate in the town and argued that the letters they submitted did constitute approval.




In its decision published Thursday, the appellate court sided only with ZY Labs, which included three letters of support from prominent Hillside community members, but not a letter directly from the municipality. The court remanded the application to the Health Department for further consideration after saying the letters constituted community approval under the department guidance.


“This was a significant victory for ZY Labs,” said Lee Vartan, an attorney that represented the applicant. “ZY Labs is confident in the strength of its application and looks forward to being awarded a license to cultivate medical marijuana in the central region.”




Others are not celebrating.


“We are disappointed in the Court’s decision as it anachronistically relied on an agency investigation occurring after the disqualification decision – confirming the decision, itself, was baseless,” Joshua Bauchner, an attorney who represented several of the appellants, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we remain hopeful that the [state Health Department] will finally adhere to its mandate to serve New Jersey’s ever growing medical marijuana patient population without further delay.”




Another attorney in the case, Craig Provorny, said the health department conducted an insufficient investigation into the technical problem and maintains his client was wrongfully rejected.




“Community Wellness of New Jersey is very disappointed in the decision,” he said. “Community Wellness is a 100% minority-owned business that is the type of operation you would think the state would like to participate in this program. We believe the appellate division ignored the facts about the system crashing, and other mismanagement on behalf of the Department of Health.”




A spokesperson for the Health Department declined to comment for this story.




It’s not the first time the health department has faced legal challenges to its licensing process. Another group of rejected applicants sued over a 2018 licensing round, arguing the scoring methods for selecting six license winners lacked a clear methodology.




A court ruled in November that the Health Department must change its “unreasonable” system for awarding licenses and offer more transparency going forward.




But this ruling largely favors the Health Department’s review process. Bill Caruso, an attorney and managing director for Archer Public Affairs and a founding member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, hailed the decision as a win for the health department and said it helps to clarify rules for future rounds of licensing.


“I think this is great win for the state, and it upholds the state’s review and regulatory requirements that they have put in place, therefore breaking gridlock” he said.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Years of diddling around and the bills he signed look very much like the bills he wouldn't sign. I really fucking hate politicians.

Murphy signs N.J. legal weed bills, ending 3-year saga


More than three years after he took office with hopes of legalizing marijuana in 100 days, Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills that together legalize marijuana in New Jersey and put an end to thousands of arrests.

But it took more than a marijuana-friendly governor to make reform a reality. There were years of failed legislative attempts, a ballot question that garnered more than 2.7 million votes in favor and three months of negotiations on tax revenue, licensing rules and the ultimate hangup that nearly killed the effort: penalties for those under 21 caught with marijuana.


Murphy signed the bills Monday morning without the usual fanfare, putting his pen to paper just before the deadline to take action struck. If he had done nothing, two measures seeking to launch a legal marijuana industry and to end arrests would have become law without his signature.


“As of this moment, New Jersey’s broken and indefensible marijuana laws which permanently stained the records of many residents and short-circuited their futures, and which disproportionately hurt communities of color and failed the meaning of justice at every level, social or otherwise — are no more,” he said Monday afternoon during his briefing on the coronavirus in Trenton.


The governor signed the bills after both the Senate and Assembly held last-minute voting sessions Monday morning to pass a third bill establishing civil penalties for those under 21 caught with marijuana. Protracted debate drew the voting sessions out, and the bill passed both chambers with only 20 minutes left for Murphy to act on the first two measures.


The legalization and decriminalization bills languished on Murphy’s desk for more than two months awaiting the proposal. The governor said he would not sign them until lawmakers made penalties clear, but refused to issue a conditional veto calling for the change.


As the bills awaited action in 2021, police issued more than 2,000 charges for minor marijuana possession.


And a few plans developed and collapsed In that time. Lawmakers extended the deadline for Murphy to sign the bills by more than two weeks and the lengthy, sometimes tense, negotiations continued.


They finally proved fruitful Monday morning.


Murphy acknowledged Monday that the legalization effort took longer than expected.


“This process may have had its fits and starts, but it is ending in the right place. And, I firmly believe, this process has ended in laws that will serve as a national model,” he said.


Legalization advocates celebrated the long-awaited news.


“This is a new beginning — and the culmination of years of advocacy — and we must keep in mind that it is only the start,” Amol Sinha, executive director for the ACLU of New Jersey, said in a statement. “Signing these laws puts in motion the next phase of this effort: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalization into greater racial and social justice in New Jersey.”


Those looking to legally buy marijuana in New Jersey will have to keep waiting. The state will need to license new dispensaries to meet the public need.


New Jersey has 13 medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state, and current companies expect to open more this spring. But they have struggled so far to supply enough marijuana for the state’s 100,000 registered patients, and must certify they can meet that need before opening their doors to the public.


Experts had estimated sales could begin in late 2021, but those guesses came before the debate on underage penalties drew out the legislative process for two additional months.


Murphy said the legal marijuana marketplace would begin forming in the coming months. He will still have to fully seat the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to oversee the marijuana industry, which has six months to set up its rules and regulations before it seeks new licensees for businesses.


While marijuana consumers will not have legal avenues to purchase it yet, arrests for thousands of possession cases should begin to cease.


“And, starting immediately, those who had been subject to an arrest for petty marijuana possession — an arrest that may have kept them from a job or the opportunity to further their education — will be able to get relief and move forward,” Murphy said.


The decriminalization law allows people to possess up to six ounces of marijuana without legal consequence. But the new law on underage penalties for using marijuana also bars police from stopping young people if they smell marijuana, and allows them to only give out warnings to young people.


If they knowingly break that law and wrongfully detain someone, they can be charged with deprivation of civil rights.


“This language is anti-police rhetoric at its worst and its consequences will be real,” the state Policemen’s Benevolent Association said in a statement. “Underage users of marijuana will be free to smoke it anywhere, including in places the bill says is illegal, because merely stopping a person to enforce the law is now illegal for police.”


Monday’s signing closes a long, tumultuous chapter in the efforts to bring legal marijuana to New Jersey, but opens the next that will require the work of many to make it a reality.


“We can get down to the business of establishing a responsible, sustainable, profitable and diverse adult-use and expanded medical cannabis market in New Jersey,” Edmund DeVeaux, head of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said in a statement.


“Now the real work can begin.”
 

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