Legalized Cannabis in the Lame Duck? – InsiderNJ


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is going to be a referendum, InsiderNJ learned this afternoon:

Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Nicholas Scutari, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following joint statement today announcing the introduction of legislation to seek voter approval of a constitutional amendment to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey:

“We are moving forward with a plan to seek voter approval to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey. We introduced legislation today to authorize a public referendum for a proposal that will lead to the creation of a system that allows adults to purchase and use marijuana for recreational purposes in a responsible way.

“This initiative will bring cannabis out of the underground so that it can be controlled to ensure a safe product, strictly regulated to limit use to adults and have sales subjected to the sales tax.  

“We will have the Legislature vote on the plan during the current legislative session and expect the proposal to be on the ballot in 2020, when voter turnout will be maximized for the national election. We are confident it will be approved by the Senate, the Assembly and the voters.”

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before!

(Trenton) — Today at noon, a phalanx 0f cannabis advocates led by the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association joined Senator Nick Scutari and Assemblyman Jamel Holley to announce a new cannabis legalization initiative they’ve dubbed “#94NoMore.”

That figure represents the 94 cannabis arrests that happen in New Jersey every day according to Scott Rudder, president of the NJ CannaBusiness Association. Perhaps uncommonly for a trade association, Mr Rudder has consistently cited the racial disparities of cannabis arrests in NJ.

“Last year we were arresting 88 people per day. Now it’s 94. It’s getting worse,” Mr Rudder told InsiderNJ. “So let’s talk about what cannabis prohibition means in terms of lives impacted and dollars spent!”

Today's cannabis press conference.
Today’s cannabis press conference.

According to Mr Rudder, NJ spends over $145,000,00 to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate cannabis users each and every year.

In a show of solidarity, the NJ ACLU-NJ , the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-NJ, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152 and Doctors for Cannabis Regulation joined today’s event. Mr Rudder noted today’s event was a unique mix of social justice folks, unions and business groups, and doctors and patients stood united today in Trenton’s halls of power.

So would recreational cannabis legalization present challenges for medical cannabis users in NJ who can easily drop over $500 for an ounce of their medicine, a price-point that’s double what patients pay in other legal states?


But the social justice aspect of today’s push was undeniable.

Bersan Shaw is an applicant to dispense medical cannabis in Trenton.

“There are not that many people like me, that look like me, in this industry,” Ms Shaw told InsiderNJ. “Black and brown people, we really have to fight so this (racial disparities) will stop.”

Sow’s the whip count looking for lame duck legalization?  Senator Declan O’Scanlon, a pivotal vote on legalization said he’s a no vote for any lame duck bill.

He wants the voters to decide and for the legislature to decriminalize cannabis in the meantime.

“We have the votes in the Assembly, we’re just a few votes short in the Senate,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “We’re committed to try to get those votes before lame duck ends, but it’s the job of the Senate president to work his members”.

Assemblyman Holley’s next step? Spreading the #94NoMore message at this week’s League of Municipalities in Atlantic City.

“Wherever we can be helpful, the advocates, myself and others, to try to educate,” Holley added. “And that’s what this is doing here, this #94NoMore campaign, is educating individuals again on the urgency and the necessary reason why we should pass this.”

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