Archive for the ‘new jersey’ category

NORML PAC Endorses Bonnie Watson Coleman for US Congress

October 28th, 2014

vote_keyboardNORML PAC is endorsing Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman in her campaign to be elected to the United States Congress representing the 12th Congressional District in New Jersey.

“Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman has been a proponent of reforming New Jersey’s marijuana laws during her time in Trenton. She voted in support of legalizing medical marijuana in New Jersey, co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize possession of marijuana in the garden state, and supports a move to the legalization and regulation of marijuana,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Voters in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District should vote to send her to Congress where she will be a great asset in pursuing reform at the national level.”

Bonnie Watson Coleman was named by MSNBC as one of the 30 women candidates to watch in 2014 and was named one of the top five female pro-marijuana candidates in Freedom Leaf Magazine.

You can learn more about her campaign, including how to donate and volunteer, on her website her Facebook page.

New Jersey Marijuana Prosecutors Reverse Course, Say It’s Time to Legalize

April 1st, 2014

The New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association now officially supports legalizing the possession of marijuana, which is quite an unlikely source of support, since they are the principle group who prosecutes marijuana users in the state.

Barr

Jon-Henry Barr

“Each week, New Jersey police officers arrest hundreds of citizens for the disorderly persons offense of possession of under 50 grams of marijuana,” said Jon-Henry Barr, president of the board of trustees of the Municipal Prosecutors Association. “Those arrested include professionals and many people who would never think of committing any type of serious, victim-related crime.”

In an interview with Kathleen Hopkins from the Asbury Park Press, Barr enumerated the reasons why a strong majority (seven out of ten) of the association wants to support the legalization of marijuana:

• Requests by prosecutors to analyze samples of marijuana are overwhelming the state’s drug-testing laboratories, sometimes leading to dismissals of cases when defendants invoke their rights to speedy trials;

• Studies show that marijuana is less addictive than alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine;

• Marijuana is easier for high school students to obtain than alcohol because the sale of alcohol is strictly regulated;

• Very few of the thousands of DWI cases prosecuted annually are for driving under the influence of marijuana;

• Statistics show that African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white people are, but there is no evidence to show there is disproportionately more marijuana use in minority communities;

• The state loses money by not collecting sales tax on marijuana, while drug dealers profit.

This much-needed support from the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association comes at a pivotal time in the state’s struggle to define its stance on marijuana. Two bills have recently been introduced; one bill permits citizens to carry an ounce or less of marijuana, while the other sets up a tax-and-regulate system.

Governor Christie’s Marijuana Plan: Say One Thing, Do Another

January 22nd, 2014

GovChristieDuring his second inaugural address, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had some harsh words for our War on Drugs:

“We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse,” Governor Christie stated, “We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable.”

While critiques of the War on Drugs are always welcomed (Governor Christie had previously made similar statements), it is hard to take his comments seriously when you consider his record regarding sensible reforms to New Jersey’s marijuana laws.

The same day he was calling for an end to this failed policy, two pieces of legislation that would have made pragmatic changes to New Jersey’s marijuana laws were sitting on his desk awaiting signature. The first would have allowed state farmers to receive licenses for industrial hemp cultivation as soon as the federal government changed the national policy on the issue. The other, Senate Bill 1220, would have ensured patients enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program would be able to receive organ transplants and not be disqualified because of their medicinal use of cannabis. You would think that a governor who just stood at a podium and lambasted our prohibition as a failed policy, would immediately leave the stage and eagerly sign these pieces of legislation.

He didn’t. These two important measures sat on his desk, unsigned and were ultimately doomed to failure by Governor Christie’s pocket veto.

In the previous few years, Governor Christie declared that he would veto any legislation decriminalizing marijuana that came to his desk and also fought against rational reforms to the state’s medical marijuana program tooth and nail. He eventually capitulated slightly on the latter, but not before watering down many proposed amendments to the state’s program.

We appreciate the Governor’s sentiment and welcome him in joining the overwhelming majority of Americans who think the War on Drugs has failed, but his statements are merely political bluster until his rhetoric is matched by his actions. While the ensuing years (and continual rise in public support) will only lead to more politicians, both aspiring and those currently in power, joining us in our call for a new approach to marijuana, we must be vigilante. Actions speak louder than words. If Governor Christie (and President Obama for that matter) want the rubber to meet the road between their statements and actual public policy, they will need to follow these flowery words with legitimate action.

New Jersey Assembly Committee Approves Industrial Hemp Legislation

November 25th, 2013

njnormThe New Jersey Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted 4-1 in favor of Assembly Bill 2415. This legislation would legalize the licensed cultivation of industrial hemp. Members of NORML New Jersey were present to testify in favor of this legislation.

“We commend the Committee for taking a common sense approach to allow the growth of industrial hemp in New Jersey,” stated NORML New Jersey Executive Director Evan Nison, “Our cannabis laws are nonsensical, and few issues embody this more obviously and plainly than the prohibition of industrial hemp. We hope the absurdity of these laws will encourage members of the legislature and the public to reevaluate marijuana laws across the board.”

“The passage of this bill will help pressure the Federal Government to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp, much like nearly all other industrialize counties do, to help our environment and provide another crop for farmers.” Nison continued, “Many members of Congress are already supportive of such reforms, and states showing an eagerness to allow this crop will encourage Congress to get it done. ”

The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to a 2005 Congressional Resource Service (CRS) report. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (less than 1%) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Farmers worldwide grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food and clothing. Assembly Bill 2415 would allow New Jersey to authorize a licensed, statewide hemp industry. A2415 now awaits action on the floor of the New Jersey Assembly.

For more information contact Evan Nison, Executive Director of NORML New Jersey at Evan@normlnj.org

NJ: You can quickly and easily contact your elected officials in support of this legislation using NORML’s Take Action Center here.

New Jersey: Governor Signs Legislation Amending Aspects Of State’s Medical Cannabis Program

September 23rd, 2013

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation, Senate Bill 2842, into law modifying aspects of the state’s medical marijuana regulations.

Specifically, the law amends requirements that state-licensed medical cannabis producers and distributors be limited to providing patients with no more than three strains of the plant – a regulatory rule that has been in place since the program’s inception some three years ago. Proponents of the rule change argued that lifting the three-strain cap will foster the production and distribution of varieties of cannabis high in CBD (cannabidiol) content. Cannabidiol is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that possesses a variety of therapeutic properties. However, it is typically present at relatively low levels in conventional strains of marijuana, which typically are bred to possess higher quantities of THC – the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Senate Bill 2842 also allows for cannabis distributors to produce marijuana-infused edible products. However, at the insistence of the Governor, consumption of such products will be limited to those age 18 and younger.

Governor Christie previously vetoed language that sought to streamline regulations so that qualified patients under the age of 18 could more readily access medicinal cannabis.

Under present New Jersey law, authorized patients may only obtain medical cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries. To date, however, few facilities are actively up and running. Earlier this month, the state’s Economic Developmental Authority approved a $375,000 loan to the Compassionate Care Foundation dispensary, which plans to open its doors in mid-October.

NJ Assembly Approves Changes To MMJ Law

September 9th, 2013

A two-year-old Scotch Plains girl and other sick children who qualify for medical marijuana moved closer to getting the treatments they need after the New Jersey Assembly overwhelmingly approved changes in the regulations on Monday.

Vivian Wilson, a toddler who suffers from a severe, rare form of epilepsy, was issued a card to obtain the drug in February, but faced a number of roadblocks, including a ban on edible cannabis.

Inspired by her story, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a bill in June to reverse the ban and make other changes but were asked to revisit the issue after Gov. Christie attached recommendations to a veto last month.

A few weeks later, the Senate approved the recommendations, and the Assembly followed suit Monday with a 70-1 vote, with four abstentions.

“We are happy that this is finally being signed into law,” said Vivian’s parents, Brian and Meghan in a statement. “Our next focus will be working with the Mary E. O’Dowd and Department of Health to ensure that this law is properly regulated according to the true intent of the law so that Vivian and all of the other patients in New Jersey can finally start getting the type of medicine they need in the form they need.”

So far, Vivian has been unable to obtain cannabis, partly because of the problems with the law and partly because only one dispensary is open and it cannot meet the demand.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), a prime sponsor of the bill, also issued a statement: “For Vivian and many children like her, marijuana may be the only treatment that can provide life-changing relief. As a state, we should not stand in the way of that,” she said.

The legislators initially passed a bill allowing edible marijuana to be sold to all registered marijuana patients, but Christie recommended this variety be restricted to children.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), another sponsor, said that he would have preferred elderly patients and others who cannot smoke to also be eligible to take the drug it by tablet or syrup, or another approved form of edibles.

The revised bill now returns to the governor’s desk for his signature.

During a campaign stop at a diner last month, Christie got into a heated exchange with Brian Wilson, who questioned why Christie had not yet signed the bill for two months and who told Christie “please don’t let my daughter die.” The You-Tube video of the conversation went viral.

Christie’s reply was the bill raised “complicated issues.”

“It’s simple for you, it’s not simple for me,” he said. “I’m going to do what’s best for the people of the state, all of the people of the state.”

Christie, a Republican, has said repeatedly that he wants strict regulations to prevent people from getting access to “pot” if they are not sick.

Wilson later blamed politics and said that Christie is concerned about his conservative base as he considers a run in the 2016 presidential primaries.

Another change in the revised bill that passed Monday will allow dispensaries to cultivate more than three strains of marijuana. The Wilsons have said the three-strain limit makes it difficult for dispensaries to provide a cannabis strain tailored to a small percentage of the patients. Children with epilepsy, she said, require a strain that is high in an anti-seizure chemical and that is low in the ingredient that gives the user a “high.”

Christie let that amendment stand but opposed another one that would require children to get only one doctor to approve their use of cannabis. Currently, children must have a psychiatrist and a pediatrician sign off on the drug, and if neither of them are registered, they need to enlist a third doctor.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Author: Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer
Published: Monday, September 9, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.
Contact: Inquirer.Letters@phillynews.com
Website: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/

Rob Kampia: What Can We Learn from DOJ Memo?

September 4th, 2013

Chris Christie Supports Allowing MMJ for Children

August 17th, 2013

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday asked for changes in a medical marijuana bill to to ease access to the drug for ill children.

Christie signaled that he would sign the bill if the Legislature changed it to stipulate that edible forms of marijuana would be available only to qualified minors, and that a pediatrician and psychiatrist had to approve a child’s prescription.

“Today, I am making common sense recommendations to this legislation to ensure sick children receive the treatment their parents prefer, while maintaining appropriate safeguards,” Christie said in a statement.

Christie agreed to allow sick children access to forms of pot that can be eaten. The move is supported by parents worried that the dry-leaf and lozenge forms of the drug pose health concerns.

He also supported removing a limit on the number of marijuana strains that state dispensaries can provide. That would give patients, adults and children, a variety of marijuana strains to choose from; advocates say different strains carry different medicinal properties.

Christie’s decision came two days after he was confronted at a campaign stop by an epileptic girl’s father, who says the new bill would make it easier for her get a version of medical marijuana she needs.

“Please don’t let my daughter die,” parent Brian Wilson cried to the governor in a moment caught by television cameras.

Wilson’s 2-year-old daughter, Vivian, suffers a version of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome that can cause life-ending seizures. Wilson contends that a certain type of medical marijuana — one with high levels of a compound called CBD and low levels of THC, the chemical that gets pot users high — could help control her seizures.

Limited by law to providing only three strains, the state’s single currently operating dispensary does not offer the high-CBD marijuana that Wilson believes would help.

Christie, who is believed to be a contender in the 2016 presidential election, shot back at Wilson during their Wednesday encounter that “these are complicated issues.” Christie had been criticized by medical marijuana advocates for failing to act on the bill for nearly two months. He has raised concerns that adults could exploit a bill intended to help children.

“I know you think it’s simple and it’s not,” he told Wilson.

Wilson and his wife, Meghan, of Scotch Plains, faulted Christie in a statement Friday for deciding “to make it so difficult for parents, who are already enduring tremendous pain and heartache, to get approval for such a safe and simple medication.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, a Democrat, echoed Wilson’s disappointment in Christie for the “extra burdens” his version of the bill would place on parents. But he said he was “pleased to see the governor open to allowing this program to move forward.”

New Jersey is one of 20 states that allow medical marijuana, but has among the most stringent restrictions, especially for young patients.

Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Author: Benjamin Mueller
Published: August 17, 2013
Copyright: 2013 Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Website: http://www.latimes.com/

New Jersey Legislature Passes Bill to Improve Medical Marijuana Access

June 28th, 2013

New Jersey’s medical marijuana law has shown itself to be overly restrictive and flawed in many ways, but fortunately, the legislature has approved a bill that would make a few significant improvements.

S2842/A4241 was drafted on behalf of two-year-old patient Vivian Wilson, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome but has not been able to benefit from the state’s the program. The bill, which has been supported by our allies at the Drug Policy Alliance, would make three significant changes to New Jersey’s law:

* It would remove the requirement that an alternative treatment center may only grow three strains of marijuana.
* It would allow medical marijuana to be distributed in edible forms and other forms approved by the Commissioner of Health.
* It would remove the requirement that minor patients with serious illnesses must receive a recommendation from a pediatrician and psychiatrist in addition to the treating physician.

This bill passed the Assembly Monday in a 55-13 vote after having previously been approved by the Senate, 24-14. However, Gov. Chris Christie has not indicated whether he will sign the bill, and in an interview last month, he said he’s “not inclined to allow” minors to have access to medical marijuana.

If you are a New Jersey resident, please call Gov. Christie today and urge him to sign this bill.

Poll: Majority of New Jersey Voters Support Decriminalization for Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana

June 12th, 2013

A recent poll found that a majority of New Jersey voters believe people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana should pay a fine, but not go to prison.

Commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance, the poll of 604 registered voters determined that 61 percent support the elimination of criminal penalties for minor possession (under two ounces).

The poll also found that 82 percent of voters either favor, or are neutral to, politicians who advocate for reducing criminal penalties for possession.

Rosanne Scotti, the New Jersey State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “More than 22,000 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey in 2010 at a cost of more than $125 million dollars. New Jerseyans understand that current penalties for marijuana are unfair and wasteful.”

Despite this wave of public support, NJ Gov. Chris Christie has stated that he will veto any decriminalization bill.