Second medical marijuana dispensary receives grow permit; Gov. Christie threatens to veto civil fine for possession
Although Gov. John Corzine signed New Jersey's medical marijuana law in January 2010, implementation has been slow. On August 9, 2012, the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) registry finally opened to qualified patients. In December 2012, the first state-approved dispensary — Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair — opened for business and began serving patients.
In June 2013, a second dispensary — Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township — received state approval to begin growing 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.
New Jersey law does not allow patients or caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana. The only state-legal sources of medical marijuana are alternative treatment centers (ATCs). In addition to the two ATCs mentioned above, four others were granted licenses in March 2011, but they have not yet gotten final approval — in part due to repeated delays by regulators, and in part due to problems getting local permission.
Sadly, the slow implementation has negatively impacted New Jersey patients. While waiting for the state to implement dispensaries, multiple sclerosis patient John Ray Wilson was convicted for growing 17 marijuana plants for his personal medical use. Wilson was sentenced to five years in prison and began serving his sentence in January 2011.
Gov. Christie threatens to veto sensible reform to marijuana possession penalty
On June 25, 2012, the New Jersey General Assembly approved A1465, a sensible bill that would reform marijuana possession penalties, in a 44-31 vote. Sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, the bill would impose civil fines starting at $150 on possession of up to 15 grams (about half an ounce) of marijuana. In addition, Sen. Nicholas Scutari sponsors S1977, which would impose a $50 fine on up to 50 grams of marijuana (about 1.5 ounces). A poll released in June 2013 found that 61% of New Jersey voters favor such a proposal.
Both bills are pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please ask your senator to support these commonsense measures. Unfortunately, Gov. Chris Christie has said he will veto A1465.
Learn about New Jersey's marijuana laws
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. You can learn more about New Jersey’s marijuana penalties and enforcement by reading this report by Jon Gettman, PhD.
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