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Despite the opposition of long-entrenched politicians in New Jersey to cannabis legalization, it does appear as though the Garden State will soon be joining many other states in legalizing the adult recreational use of cannabis.
Lawmakers look to potentially pass a bill that the Governor, Phil Murphy, will theoretically sign into law in upcoming sessions. Every state with legalization on the books has taken its own unique approach to the complex process of undoing decades of prohibition and failed drug policies. New Jersey will be no exception to that, but activists are already seeking to address the shortcomings of the proposed plan.
Specifically, people are concerned about the lack of home grow opportunities. Ensuring a commercial cannabis market can do a lot to help a state. It can result in more tourism dollars and generate a lot of tax revenue. However, not every person who wants to use cannabis for medical or recreational purposes has the ability to pay dispensary prices.
The costs associated with purchasing cannabis at a dispensary can be prohibitive, especially for those who are aging, disabled, or otherwise struggling financially. These individuals may seek to take advantage of legalization by growing their own cannabis, only to find themselves still branded as criminals if they get caught doing so.
Protecting home grow operations helps ensure that even those who cannot afford dispensary cannabis can still access it. More importantly, it undermines the ability of corporate interests to monopolize the industry and set unfairly high prices on cannabis for consumers.
Allowing home grows not only diversifies the cannabis genetics available by having more people growing and breeding, but it also reduces the strain of cannabis-related crimes on the legal system. Even in states with full legalization, people still get arrested for growing, selling, and even consuming cannabis.
As New Jersey slowly heads toward cannabis legalization, it is incumbent upon lawmakers to do everything in their power to make the legislation as fair and effective as possible. Legalizing home grows is a critical step toward a fair and rational cannabis policy in any state. Those hoping to encourage a rational and compassionate approach to home grows may want to send a letter provided by the Coalition of Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, Inc.
This form letter cites the 35,000 arrests in New Jersey for cannabis each year, as well as the criminal penalties and long-term consequences of cannabis arrests, including the impact it can have on the children of those incarcerated for a cannabis-related offense. Legalization is the most compassionate way to address these concerns, but lawmakers must ensure they don’t create more issues than they solve when they build a bill.
For previous Ladybud articles about New Jersey, click here.
Photo Credit: Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0