Chris Goldstein of Philadelphia NORML reported that the NJ legislature has granted only a minor amendment to the NJ medical marijuana law.
If so, then the legislature did not acquiesce in Governor Christie’s proposal to eviscerate the law by allowing only Rutgers University to cultivate cannabis and allowing only hospitals to dispense to patients.
Instead the Legislature simply extended the effective date of the law from July 1, 2010, to October 1, 2010 – presumably to give the Department of Health and Senior Services more time in which to promulgate the overdue regulations that are necessary to enable patients, manufacturers, and distributors to become licensed.
Open question #1: how will legislative proponents and advocates ensure that the executive branch meets this new, adjourned deadline, which was necessitated by the executive branch’s initial failure to comply with the law?
Open question #2: what will advocates do in New York now that the City of New York and the Governor have come out against medical marijuana?
3 thoughts on “NJ legislature allows only a limited amendment to the state’s medical marijuana law”
How does the City's attitude relate to current laws regulating marijuana in general? The Penal Code lists five categories of criminal possession of marijuana, the least of which is a fine of $100 for burning in public or possessing more than 25 grams and the highest of which is a Class A felony for possession of more than 10 pounds. People are able to possess up to 2 ounces before they are charged with a felony, and anything less than 25 grams is unpenalized. The law seems to be targeting growers and seller of large quantities, rather than the people who toke once in a while. So where is the fuss coming from? How will the situation change with the passage of the medical marijuana law?
I have said in subsequent posts that the City Government's position on the medical marijuana bill makes no sense.
The bigger issue in NYC regarding cannabis is the widely-reported policy of arresting persons – disproportionately Black and Latino – for possession of personal use amounts of cannabis, i.e. less than 25 grams, notwithstanding the law. Harry Levine and Deborah Small reported in the spring of 2008 that NYPD officers have a policy of inducing people to take their cannabis out to show the officers in exchange for the promise that if they do so they will be released; however, at that point the cannabis is in “plain view” and thus within the prohibited acts outside the protection of the decrim part of the law (the fine).
That situation will not change with the enactment of a medical marijuana. Drug use splits into 2 categories: medical and non-medical. Medical use is OK. Non-medical use is illegal. The federal government and the states without “medical marijuana” laws recognize no medical use of cannabis. Therefore the sole point of the medical marijuana law is to change the “medical” side of the dichotomy.
The most significant aspect of the proposed law is to legalize manufacture and sale of cannabis. The law therefore will protect the growers and sellers who are licensed by the state to supply the medical marijuana market. It won't do anything for unlicensed suppliers.
The other piece of the law is to grant official state recognition of medical marijuana patients. The Department of Health will give them give them a state ID which the patients and their caregivers can show to police to demonstrate their legal right to buy, possess, and (in the case of the patients) use cannabis.
If a patient or caregiver has more than 25 of cannabis then they're in trouble. The bill will protect them up to 2.5 ounces.
I don't know what problem anyone has with the proposed law. It does nothing about the non-medical market. It's extremely conservative.
The “problem” is that people think everyone and their brother will have access to marijuana once it goes medical. In California, anyone can get a prescription for any ailment, from anxiety to insomnia to I-just-don't-feel-well. So, people are worried that the bill is a veiled attempt to make it all legal.