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.

Rob Kampia: What Can We Learn from DOJ Memo?

September 4th, 2013

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.

New Jersey Makes Some Progress on Medical Marijuana

June 7th, 2013

On Thursday, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would make it easier for minors suffering from debilitating illnesses to procure medical marijuana.

The bill eliminates the requirement of written confirmation from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist in order for juveniles to get medical marijuana. It also calls for medical marijuana to be produced in edible form and allows more strains to be made available.

William J. Thomas CCFNJ

Compassionate Care Foundation CEO William J. Thomas

Also out of New Jersey, the state’s Health Department issued a permit for the second medical marijuana dispensary to begin growing its first crop. Compassionate Care Foundation Inc. will now join Greenleaf Compassion Center in bringing relief to the nearly 1,000 patients that have registered for the state’s medical marijuana program.

New Jersey Will Expand Medical Marijuana Program

April 18th, 2013

New Jersey may open more medical marijuana dispensaries, according to the state’s health commissioner.

In early April, Gov. Chris ChristieChris Christie proposed allocating $1.6 million to fund New Jersey’s three-year-old medical marijuana program, doubling the initial spending plan.

Commissioner Mary O’Dowd told the state Senate Budget Committee that the extra money would be used to build and maintain treatment centers, as well as cover costs for inspections, testing protocols, and monitoring stores.

New Jersey currently only has one fully operational dispensary in Montclair, with four more in the process of acquiring state approval.