Legalization conversation continues; lawmakers look at expungement
Last update: June 20, 2018
A robust discussion of legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana continues in the New Jersey Legislature and across the state. The Assembly Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a series of public hearings across New Jersey, and multiple bills have been introduced. Support for legalization is at 60% and has been increasing among New Jerseyans according to a recent poll.
When Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on a promise to legalize marijuana, he emphasized the need to address the harms caused by prohibition. Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, chair of the Judiciary Committee, recently held a hearing on her bill to help do just that by ensuring that people with marijuana offenses on their records will have meaningful access to expungement if New Jersey legalizes cannabis. (Click here for MPP’s expungement fact sheet).
Unfortunately, the opposition continues to suffer from “reefer madness,” even making the ridiculous claim that getting too high is killing people. Please let your lawmakers know the facts, and tell them you support ending New Jersey’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.
Health Department expands New Jersey’s medical marijuana program; more should be done by the legislature
New Jersey’s medical cannabis program was stifled for years by unreasonably strict regulations. Gov. Murphy, shortly after taking office in 2018, ordered the Department of Health to expand access to the program. The health department adopted the recommendations of a panel of experts, adding irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, Tourette’s syndrome, migraines, opioid use disorder, and chronic pain as qualifying conditions. These and other changes, like reduced patient fees, have dramatically expanded the number of patients.
Unfortunately, this has led to a supply shortage, because New Jersey only has six cannabis cultivators licensed in the entire state, who are unable to meet the demand, and home cultivation is not permitted. The legislature is considering bills to add more businesses and make other improvements, or the administration could do so under existing law (though they would have to be combined cultivator/dispensaries). More businesses will hopefully also reduce prices for medical cannabis, which are among the highest in the nation, making the program inaccessible for many patients.
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