Last Update: January 30, 2014
Progress is slow, but reformers are not giving up
The 2013 legislative session saw many sensible marijuana policy proposals. Sadly, few of them were approved. A4537 would have allowed qualifying patients to obtain marijuana from out of state, such as the strain Charlotte’s Web, which is grown in Colorado and known for treating seizures. The bill was passed by the Assembly 50-23, but then died in a Senate committee.
Another compassionate bill, A765/S1220 would have protected medical marijuana patients from being discriminated against in the provision of medical care, including organ transplants. The bill passed both chambers in landslide votes. Unfortunately, Gov. Christie failed to take action, and the bill was vetoed.
One bright spot was Gov. Chris Christie’s approval of A4241/S2842 — though he first made the bill more restrictive. The new law expands the number of strains a dispensary can grow and allows for the production of edible marijuana products for minors only. It also reduces the hurdles minor patients must jump through.
Fortunately, New Jersey’s champions have not given up in 2014. Already, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora has re-introduced his decriminalization bill, now A218, which will impose a civil fine starting at $150 for the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana.
A poll released in June 2013 found that 61% of New Jersey voters favor such a proposal. In the past, Gov. Christie has threatened to veto such measures if they passed. So it is especially important for your representatives to know that you stand behind them in supporting A218. Please email them today!
Finally, Sen. Nicholas Scutari has already announced that he will be sponsoring a bill to legalize marijuana and regulate it like alcohol. Make sure to sign up for MPP alerts to get the latest updates on marijuana policy in New Jersey.
New Jersey medical marijuana program slowly growing
Although the Garden State’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in 2010, implementation has been slow. New Jersey's law does not allow patients or caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana and the single alternative treatment center (ATC) that was opened in late 2012 was only able to produce enough medicine to serve a fraction of the state’s patients. At long last, two more ATCs opened in Fall 2013. Three more have been preliminarily approved but have not yet opened. As of January 2014, there are 2,279 patients registered with the state Medicinal Marijuana Program.
Another obstacle facing patients in New Jersey is the fact that not all doctors can recommend medical marijuana. Unlike other states with medical marijuana laws in effect, only doctors who register with the state are allowed to qualify patients for New Jersey’s program. Information on how to find a doctor who can qualify patients for the MMP is available here.
ACLU study shows New Jersey’s harsh marijuana laws result in racially disproportionate arrest rates
In New Jersey, possession of even a single joint for non-medical purposes is punishable by up to six months of incarceration and up to a $1,000 fine.
A 2013 study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that although blacks and whites use marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in New Jersey are 2.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Thank you for supporting MPP. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in New Jersey, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.