growing marijuana in new jersey

“So to truly legalize cannabis home growers should be an option, “Gopal said. “It’s no different than other states like California who have adopted this… . The reality is, as a country and as a state, we’ve spent billions of dollars on the failed war on drugs. And this is just one piece of making sure that it’s truly legalized.”

“We have some of the most expensive medical marijuana in the country,” Wolski said. “So many patients are just, you know, have already been impoverished by their illnesses that they simply cannot afford this medicine.”

Medical patients could grow up to 10 plants. Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, has been pushing for this to open up access to more than 100,000 patients who only have 14 alternative treatment centers to choose from.

There is a question of safety.

The good news is, it hasn’t been all bad news on the cannabis beat in Trenton. Since July 1, when marijuana legalization took effect, New Jersey has expunged more than 360,000 marijuana convictions while also dismissing pending marijuana cases. The bad news is that expunging their records doesn’t repair the damage done to those 360,000 lives, inflicted by New Jersey’s criminal justice system. To fully correct these injustices of the Drug War, New Jersey must do more than simply expunge some records.

So, how did New Jersey find itself in this idiotic situation? Last November, the people of New Jersey voted for a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis. But at some point during the negotiations to draft the enabling legislation, the home-grow provisions were cut out of it. Cut out by whom — and for what reason — remains unclear.

Cannabis reform groups support Gopal’s efforts, including NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project. Both groups advocate for consistent consumer access. For homebound patients who need medical marijuana and for adults who don’t live near a retail dispensary, residents of New Jersey need the ability to grow at home. Yet despite this attention from national groups, the leaders of the New Jersey Legislature just don’t seem motivated to fix this problem.

New Jersey is a great place to grow cannabis. But unfortunately, New Jersey is one of two states where adult-use cannabis is legal, but home cultivation is not. It’s possibly the only thing that New Jersey has in common with the other non-homegrow state, Washington, and it’s nothing to be proud of. The good news is: New Jersey can fix it. To paraphrase a former New Jersey official, it’s time for some homegrown in Fort Lee.

No one said ending prohibition would be easy. This is what happens when states are left to their own devices without the benefit of a functional Congress. But that’s no excuse for New Jersey to not get this right when the stakes are so high. Real people go to real prison when we get this wrong.

Who stands to benefit from keeping homegrown cannabis illegal in New Jersey? Although there are no such allegations being made in the Garden State, there have been reports of marijuana businesses advocating for a ban on homegrown cannabis to protect their own interests in other states, from New York to Michigan.

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., Sen. Cory Booker is leading the charge to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Yet somewhere between Booker and Gopal, the New Jersey Democratic Party seems to have lost the script. Advocating for a simple home-grown solution should be a simple policy decision for a political party focused on the people.