New Jersey: Bill To Legalize Recreational Marijuana Set To Be Unveiled


By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.

If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."

The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.

Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.

Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.

"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.

New Jersey: Legalization Would Boost Tax Revenues By $300 Million, According To Report


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana for adult sin New Jersey would generate at least $300 million in new tax revenues each year, according to a new report released Tuesday morning.

The report calls the $300 million estimate "conservative," basing it on a 25 percent tax on retail marijuana sold only to adults, reports the Philly Voice. The overall economic impact would be far greater once other benefits, including job creation, additional income and business tax revenue, related accessories, and property and agricultural taxes, according to the report, by New Jersey Policy Perspective and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.

Around 365,000 adults in New Jersey use marijuana on at least a monthly basis; they use about 2.5 million ounces of marijuana a year, according to the report. That represents 4 percent of the state's population, which sounds like a rather low estimate to us.

New Jersey: Weedman Arrested, Cops Seize $19K Of Marijuana From His Business

Ed Forchion.jpeg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

A marijuana advocate who calls himself Weedman has been arrested again on marijuana charges after law enforcement raided his restaurant and cannabis temple.

Ed Forchion was arrested along with 10 other people Wednesday after a raid of his business across the street from City Hall in Trenton.

Forchion opened a restaurant, NJ Weedman's Joint, and an attached cannabis church last year. The restaurant's clocks are all stuck at 4:20. And the joint offers $4.20 specials that include the Fully Baked Burger. For $7.10, customers could get the Budz Nugz, grilled salmon nuggets over a bed of mixed greens.

Last month Forchion sued Trenton police, saying they violated his religious rights by shutting down the cannabis temple for staying open too late.

Police said they found marijuana and all sorts of edibles in nearly every part of the establishment, including the backyard.

Forchion, 51, was being held in lieu of $50,000 cash or bond bail on the following charges:

-Six counts of distribution of a controlled dangerous substance
-Three counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance
-Three counts possession with the intent to distribute
-Two counts of possession with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school
-Possession with the intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park
-Fortified premises

New Jersey: Christie Won't Apologize To Family Who Left State For Child's Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Wednesday defended his state's strict medical marijuana program, shrugging off a suggestion that a family had no choice but to relocate to Colorado so their ailing daughter could access medicinal cannabis products.

"Vivian Wilson's family chose themselves to leave the state of New Jersey," an unapologetic Christie blustered, reports Susan K. Livio at NJ Advance Media. "The fact is we signed into law the ability for children to get medical marijuana under very strict guidelines."

"The folks who want edibles all the time for kids should go to Colorado," Christie said. "So you know, I'm sorry, I am an anti-marijuana guy. You are a pro-marijuana guy," he said to a spectator at Wednesday's town hall who asked about the Wilson family, and whether it was fair they were forced to leave the state for their daughter's health. "That's fine," Christie said. "I'll enforce the federal law."

"This is a medical program, not a recreational program," the incredibly insensitive Christie unnecessarily pointed out. (Is this loud-mouthed lard tub really suggesting that Vivian's parents want to get her stoned?)

Vivian, 4, suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe, potentially life-threatening form of epilepsy that results in seizures that traditional pharmaceuticals have been unable to control.

U.S.: Facebook Deletes Medical Marijuana Pages


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Facebook apparently doesn't "Like" medical marijuana. The social media giant this week deleted pages run by three New Jersey dispensaries, and at least a handful of others across the country.

The move surprised dispensary owners and angered patients, reports Susan K. Livio at NJ Advance Media.

"It seems high-handed to simply shut down important resources for sick patients without even saying why or giving organizations a way to ask for reconsideration," said Peter Rosenfeld, one of 5,668 registered medical marijuana patients in New Jersey's program. "What better use of social media than having sites where parents of sick children can ask questions about medication and treatments?"

Facebook media relations personnel refused to answer questions, and referred reporters to the community standards section on Facebook's homepage.

Officials from Breakwater Wellness and Treatment Center in Cranbury, and Compassionate Sciences Alternative Treatment Center in Bellmawr, said their pages were shut down by Facebook on Tuesday. When they tried to use the pages, they got an electronic message reading, "We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use."

"Your page is currently not visible on Facebook," the message reads. "It looks like content on your page does not follow the Facebook Community Terms and Standards."

New Jersey: Legislature To Hold First-Ever Hearing On Marijuana Legalization


More Than 20,000 People Are Arrested for Marijuana Possession in New Jersey Every Year

Advocates Applaud Hearing and Call for Common-Sense and Popular Marijuana Reform

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, November 16 will hold the first-ever hearing on marijuana legalization in New Jersey.

The committee will hear invited testimony on how New Jersey could legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol for adults and how this has worked in the other states that have legalized marijuana. Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the committee, has also introduced legislation to legalize marijuana.

“The Drug Policy Alliance supports taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol for adults and thanks the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for taking testimony on this issue," said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director of Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). "The criminalization of marijuana is costly, unfair and compromises public safety.

"New Jersey wastes more than $125 million dollars a year arresting people for marijuana possession," Scotti said. "This absurd policy criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens and wastes law enforcement resources that would be better spent on serious public safety issues.”

New Jersey: New Poll Finds Majority Support For Legalizing Marijuana


Findings Mirror Growing Support for Legalization Across the Country

Advocates Say That Taxing and Regulating Marijuana Reduce Injustices of Marijuana Arrests and Generate Millions of Dollars in Tax Revenue for Projects to Benefit All New Jerseyans

A significant majority of New Jerseyans expressed for support for legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana in a Rutgers-Eagleton poll. The poll was conducted in partnership with the Drug Policy Alliance.

The poll found that 58 percent of New Jersey residents support legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana like alcohol for adults 21 and over. Those surveyed were most persuaded to support marijuana legalization and regulation as a result of New Jersey’s costly marijuana laws.

New Jersey wastes more than $125 million a year arresting people for marijuana possession. This absurd policy criminalizes otherwise law-abiding citizens and wastes law enforcement resources that would be better spent on serious crime and public safety issues.

"Support for legalization in New Jersey is growing, which mirrors national polls,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. "By asking a question that makes clear legalization for adults 21 and over would come with taxes and regulation, we provided context that may account for some of the 9-point jump in support from our April 2014 poll.

U.S.: Legalized Marijuana Would Be Eliminated Under A Christie Presidency


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Sunday promised to eliminate legalized marijuana in states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska if he's elected president.

The rotund Republican, speaking on CBS' "Face The Nation," said his administration would use federal law outlawing marijuana to crack down on states that have legalized recreational cannabis use, reports Matt Arco of NJ Advance Media.

"Yes sir," Christie replied to host John Dickerson when asked if he'd go after Colorado and Washington for legalized marijuana.

"If you were President would you return the federal prosecutions in the states of Colorado, Washington state?" Dickerson asked. "Yes," Christie answered.

"So, if somebody's enjoying that now in their state, if you're President, that's getting turned off?" Dickerson pressed. "Correct," Christie responded.

The Obama Administration hasn't punished states which have legalized marijuana, nor has it forced them to roll back the initiatives that voters approved.

Christie, on the other hand, has been a vocal critic of cannabis legalization; ignoring science, he claims it's a "gateway drug."

Photo of Gov. Chris Christie: York Post

New Jersey: Voters Reform Broken Bail System


Advocates Hail Historic Reform and Look Forward to Work on Implementing New Law

New Jersey voters on Tuesday approved Public Question No. 1 to reform New Jersey’s bail system. The narrowly-worded question allows judges to deny bail to dangerous individuals, but it ushers in broader bail reform because it is linked to comprehensive legislation, already signed by the governor, that overhauls the state’s broken bail system.

The legislation implements wide-ranging reforms including non-monetary release options for low-risk individuals; a system under which pretrial release decisions are based on risk rather than resources; the use of risk assessments for suspects enabling courts to make individualized determinations of what conditions of release are appropriate; establishment of a pretrial services unit within the court system that will provide appropriate levels of monitoring and counseling for those awaiting trial.

The legislation also protects the rights of those denied bail by requiring prosecutors to prove the case for pretrial detention by clear and convincing evidence and mandating clear timelines for speedy trial.

Advocates and faith leaders across the state waged a hard-fought two-year campaign to pass the legislation and win approval of Public Question No. 1 by voters. They hailed the victory as a historic change to New Jersey’s criminal justice system.

New Jersey: Medical Marijuana Program Struggling Under Rigid Rules, High Costs


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

When New Jersey's medical marijuana law was being written and passed, it was often boasted that it was "the strictest in the nation," as if serving fewer patients was somehow something to brag about. Now, after initial predictions that the program could serve tens of thousands of patients, only 2,342 have signed up, a participation rate so small some worry about the future of the program.

Lawmakers, some dispensary operators and patients blame the low enrollment on New Jersey's strict rules, high costs for both patients and growers, and Governor Chris Christie's barely concealed hostility to the program, including his contention that he doesn't need to do anything to boost participation, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger.

One major roadblock, according to almost everyone involved, is that so few physicians in New Jersey are willing to authorize patients for medical marijuana.

"We have a dysfunctional program, and I think it's going to take some sort of 'pot summit' bringing together patients, doctors and legislators to really make this a success," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), one of the lead sponsors of the law.

New Jersey: Prosecutors Endorse Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced In Legislature


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) has introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana in New Jersey, creating a taxed and regulated system of distribution like the one in Colorado. The bill on Monday was endorsed by the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association, the president of which called it "silly" to spend money on marijuana cases.

The 7-2 vote, by the prosecutor's association's board of trustees, produced such high emotions that some prosecutors quit the association upon learning the results, according to the association's President Jon-Henry Barr, reports Susan K. Livio at The Star-Ledger.

"This is something a lot of prosecutors have been thinking but never talked about," Barr said. "I have spent hours and hours litigating the issue of suppression motions because usually the police will retrieve marijuana without a search warrant, and at the end of the day, it is all over a joint. It's just collectively brought me and so many prosecutors to the point where this is silly."

"We are spending too much time and getting not enough results when it comes to prosecuting small amounts of marijuana," Barr said, reports CBS New York's Marla Diamond.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Says 'We Will End the Failed War On Drugs'


Embattled Governor, Fighting 'Bridgegate' Allegations, Calls for Alternatives to Incarceration and Expanded Drug Treatment

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Governor Chris Christie on Tuesday took the oath of office for a second term and delivered his inaugural address at the War Memorial in Trenton. During his inaugural address he called for an end to the drug war and compassion for those suffering from drug addiction.

Drug policy reform advocates applauded the Governor's remarks, even as cynics derided Christie for what they called a desperate attempt to draw public attention away from the Bridgegate scandal, which is threatening to derail Christie's Presidential ambitions. Christie had been the front-runner for the GOP nomination for President until the scandal broke recently.

Christie's sudden conversion to Drug War reformer is particularly startling, coming as it does after four solid years of obstructionism and foot-dragging when it comes to New Jersey's medical marijuana program, signed into law by Christie's predecessor, Gov. Jon Corzine, on Corzine's last day in office. Many patients have been left in the lurch by Christie's neglect of, and active opposition to, the program.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Signs Bill Increasing Children's Access To Medical Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a law which changes New Jersey's medical marijuana program with the aim of getting sick children forms of cannabis which could help them.

Gov. Christie signed the bill on Tuesday, one day after the changes he suggested were adopted by the New Jersey Assembly, reports The Associated Press.

The law ends a restriction on medical marijuana dispensaries that had limited them to growing just three different strains of cannabis. It also allows them to produce edibles containing marijuana, but only for sale to children with qualifying conditions and a physician's authorization.

Legislators had decided to ditch the requirement that children get at least two doctors to approve their medical marijuana usage. But the governor used a conditional veto to eliminate that change.

Both chambers of the Legislature accepted the bill as revised by Christie.

"I'm pleased the legislature accepted my recommendations so that suffering children can get the treatment they need," said Christie, who has an eye on a 2016 White House run. "I've said all along that protection of our children remains my utmost concern, and this new law will help sick kids access the program while also keeping in place appropriate safeguards.

"Parents, not government bureaucrats, are best suited to decide how to care for their children, and this law advances that important principle," Christie said.

New Jersey: Assembly Overwhelmingly Approves Medical Marijuana For Children


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A two-year-old New Jersey girl and other sick kids who qualify for medical marijuana are closer to getting the treatment they need after the New Jersey Assembly on Monday overwhelmingly approved changes in the regulations.

Vivian Wilson, a toddler who has a rare and severe form of epilepsy which causes multiple seizures every day, in February was issued a card qualifying her to get medical marijuana, but has faced a number of hurdles, including a ban on edible forms of cannabis, reports Jan Hefler at The Inquirer.

Lawmakers, moved by little Vivian's story, overwhelmingly passed a bill in June to reverse the ban on medibles and to make other changes making it easier for kids to get medicinal cannabis, but last month were asked to revisit the issue after Gov. Chris Christie attached specific recommendations to his veto.

A few weeks later, the New Jersey Senate approved the recommendations, and the Assembly on Monday followed suit with a 70-1 vote, with four abstentions.

The revised bill now returns to Gov. Christie's desk for his signature.

New Jersey: Christie Conditionally Vetoes Bill Easing Children's Access to Medical Marijuana


Governor Sends Bill Back to Legislature With Partial Veto

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday agreed to give chronically ill children easier access to medical marijuana, but he wouldn't sign a bill state lawmakers had sent to his desk to do exactly that. Christie, a Republican, conditionally vetoed the bill, saying "Parents, and not government regulators, are best suited to decide how to care for their children."

Gov. Christie claimed he agreed with provisions that allowed production of edible forms of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries, and to allow the dispensaries to grow more than three strains of cannabis, reports The Associated Press. But he vetoed a part of the bill that would have dropped a requirement that both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician sign off before children are allowed medical marijuana, saying he wanted to "keep in some safeguards" for young patients.

The bill, minus the vetoed portion, now goes back to the New Jersey Legislature. If lawmakers make the changes the governor requested, it will become law.

New Jersey: Gov. Christie Confronted Over Foot-Dragging On Medical Marijuana


'Don't Let My Daughter Die, Governor,' Father Implores

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that he will decide by the end of this week whether to sign a bill making it easier for children to participate in the state's medical marijuana program. The governor made the comments after being confronted at a campaign stop by the father of a two-year-old epileptic girl who needs medicinal cannabis.

The bill, S2842, passed the New Jersey Assembly back in June on an overwhelming 55-13 vote, but Christie has so far refused to say whether he will sign it, reports Bryan Koenig at CNN. It would expand to children the medical marijuana access already available to adults.

Brian Wilson is the father of two-year-old Vivian, who has Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy which results in multiple seizures every day, reports WCBS-TV. Vivian's seizures are so severe, she has stopped breathing twice.

"Every day, she's dying more and more and he keeps on wanting to 'think about' this bill," Wilson told WCBS's Peter Haskell.

New Jersey: Senate Panel Backs Bill To Make Medical Marijuana Available To Kids


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A New Jersey Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure which would make it easier for children to access medical marijuana.

The bill, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would eliminate requiring written confirmation from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist in order for juveniles to use medicinal cannabis with a physician's authorization, reports CBS New York.

The same bill also calls for medical marijuana to be produced in edible form, and allows for more different strains to be made available in the state.

The father of a two-year-old girl who has severe epilepsy testified about being unable to get certification from a psychiatrist for his child to participate in the medical marijuana program.

The director of the American Academy of Pediatrics in New Jersey claimed that eliminating the requirement for a pediatrician's approval is "dangerous" because only pediatricians can assess how medicine affects children. Since marijuana is essentially non-toxic, that sounds a bit like "job protection" to us.

(Photo: Herbal Mission)

New Jersey: 2nd Medical Marijuana Dispensary Expects To Open In September

(Photo: Edward Lea/Press of Atlantic City)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Three years after then-Gov. Jon Corzine signed a medical marijuana bill into law, New Jersey patients still only have one operating dispensary at which to gain safe access to medicinal cannabis. But that could change in September.

A second medical marijuana dispensary expects to open for business on September 9, a state official said on Monday, saving Egg Harbor Township residents a drive to Essex County, reports Derek Harper at Press of Atlantic City.

Compassionate Care Foundation Inc. expects about 500 patients per month, according to state Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner. The DOH regulates the state's medical marijuana program, for which 885 patients have so far registered.

As many as 16,000 plants will be cultivated at the Egg Harbor Township facility, raising interesting questions about the possibility of federal enforcement actions (the Feds have typically been attracted to grows of more than 100 plants, since the 10-year federal mandatory minimum for marijuana cultivation kicks in at that point).

One local medical marijuana supporter said he was disappointed that the dispensary isn't already open.

New Jersey: Police Can Arrest People Who Answer Door Smoking Marijuana, Court Rules

(Photo: AP/Marco Ugarte)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Police can force their way in and make an arrest when they are greeted at the door by someone smoking marijuana, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

The began when four Newark officers, working on a confidential tip in 2008, were trying to go undercover to arrest a drug dealer at Riverview Court housing projects. Their "undercover" status didn't last long when the dealer, Rashad Walker, answered the door with a burning joint, according to court records, reports Salvador Rizzo at the Star-Ledger.

"Defendant appeared at the door smoking a marijuana cigarette," the court ruled. "Thus, a disorderly persons offense was being committed in the presence of police officers in the hallway of a public housing building, where the officers have a right to be."

The cops forced their way inside, arrested Walker and confiscated marijuana, cocaine, and "27 envelopes of heroin stamped 'Horsepower' " from his living room, according to court records.

Walker served half of his six-year sentence before being paroled last year. He had argued that the Newark police violated his rights under the New Jersey Constitution and the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, protecting people from "unreasonable search and seizure" of their homes.

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