A New Day In The Garden State

By Stu Zakim

Today, long suffering New Jersey residents got a breath of fresh air when new Governor Phil Murphy presented his first budget for fiscal 2019 to the members of the NJ Senate and Assembly in Trenton.

After years of Chris Christie and his archaic views of Cannabis, both as Governor and State Attorney General, we now have a Governor who understands how legalizing adult use Cannabis can bring enormous benefits to the Garden State in many areas.

Among the highlights

“I advocate for legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.”  Murphy wants New Jersey to “join other progressive states such as California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Colorado by legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana.”

“According to research, New Jersey spends upwards of $140 million per year adjudicating low-level marijuana possession offenses. And, marijuana-related arrest rates are tilted three-to-one against African-Americans, even though rates of marijuana use are similar among races. These resources must have a better use, whether to tackle the trafficking of illegal guns, provide stronger community policing, or to crack the back of our opioid epidemic, which was devastating our urban centers long before it made headlines.”

“Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities – especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided War on Drugs – in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs, and other critical areas. These investments will pay dividends far greater than the cost of mass incarceration.”

The Governor plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by January 1, 2019 and projects $80 million in related revenue in the first fiscal year.  We can only hope.

Maine: Voter-Initiated Changes In Law Eliminate Marijuana Possession Penalties

MAINE:  Maine became the eighth state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

Language in Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act, specific to the private possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults, took effect on Monday. Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1 on Election Day.

The new law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the harvest from up to six mature plants.

Public use of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.

In response to voters’ approval of Question 1, Maine lawmakers passed separate legislation last week, LD 88, also permitting adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. However, other provisions in the measure delay the implementation of retail marijuana sales until at least February 1, 2018. It also prohibits the possession of “edible retail marijuana products” until this date.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption and/or sale of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

NORML Comments On Maine Marijuana Legalization Certification

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Adults in Maine will be able to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis without penalty beginning January 30, 2017.

“Sometimes our opponents have to be drug there kicking and screaming, but it is good to see the ‘No on 1′ campaign and Governor LePage honor the will of state voters and allow legalization’s election night victory to finally be formally certified,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “We will be fighting to ensure the initiative is implemented as voters intended and will be vigilant and prepared to fight back against any further efforts to rollback this landmark reform.”

Governor Paul LePage on Saturday certified the results of Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act. The voter-initiated measure narrowly passed on Election Day and was subject to a partial recount. By law, the measure becomes law 30 days after the Governor has affirmed the results.

At that time, adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program will be able to legally possess up to two and one-half ounces of cannabis and/or the total harvest produced by six mature plants.

Maine will become the eight US state to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for adults who possess marijuana for their own personal use.

Separate provisions in the measure also establish regulations for the commercial cultivation, retail sale, and social use of cannabis. Regulations governing marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by August 8, 2017. However, the Governor has called on lawmakers to push back this timeline. Massachusetts lawmakers last week enacted a similar delay to their retail sales program.

Governor LePage has been a strong opponent of implementing Question 1, stating, “If there was ever a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it.” He has also suggested increasing the retail sales tax rates associated with the measure, as well as abolishing the state’s medical cannabis program, which has been in place since 1999 — positions that NORML opposes.

New Jersey Cannabis Policy Update

By Michael Chazukow, Outreach Director NJ NORML

NEW JERSEY: Cannabis activists are getting many exciting gifts this December.  Uruguay became the first nation ever to legalize the production and sale of marijuana. We are celebrating the one year anniversary of the votes that legalized recreational MJ in Washington and Colorado.  New York representatives announced the introduction of a tax and regulate bill.

Here in New Jersey, the state legislature had 2 related votes this week. The New Jersey industrial hemp bill is progressing virtually unopposed through the state legislature.  But another bill amending NJ’s medical marijuana law is getting opposition from the governor.  This means 2 & 1/2 year old Vivian Wilson is going to have a difficult holiday because Governor Christie is trying to deny her access to her seizure medicine.  [Read more…]

Despite Successes In Colorado And Washington, Marijuana Advocates Still See Cities As Their Best Bet

MAINE: Residents of Portland, Maine, will vote next month on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana possession. If the measure passes—the Marijuana Policy Project’s man in Maine, David Boyer, is “cautiously optimistic” that it will—adults 21 and over will theoretically be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of pot under Portland law. [Read more…]