- Marijuana Topics
- October 30, 2020
Although a majority of New Jerseyans support cannabis legalization, it’s not industry grown only cannabis we want. We are voting for personal choice and freedom and a few cannabis plants to love at home like they do in other legalized states.
Nine out of the 11 legalized states allow home grow of cannabis by adults and Montana, Arizona and South Dakota, all have it in their adult-use ballots this year. The Garden State should not be left out.
According to a Rutgers Eagleton poll on marijuana in 2018, “Moreover, state residents believe individuals should be able to cultivate marijuana for their own use: far more (60%) are opposed to banning private residences from growing marijuana than favor such a ban (33%).”
Currently in New Jersey, people can be sentenced 5-20 years in prison for cultivating just a personal number of plants. Alternatively, they can be sentenced to years of probation monitored like a criminal or to years of substance abuse treatment in drug court like an addict.
NJ marijuana legalization:Time for voters to decide on legal weed
If New Jerseyans legalize cannabis but are still subject to arrests and imprisonment for growing their own, what kind of legalization or social justice is that?
In my life I’ve only ever been arrested for cannabis and although simple possession disenfranchised me, it was this particular law that devastated me and my family. We grew cannabis because we couldn’t afford to buy it at prohibition prices. Home growing for personal use is social equity and it’s what the consumer voters want.
Pennsylvania legislators are speaking out for the people there. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman likens cannabis to home growing tomatoes and Rep. Jake Wheatley said in a press conference with Gov. Tom Wolf, ‘We want to make sure that when we talk about bringing this industry on, this is really about people and people having the ability to choose and to do what they think is best for them… if it doesn’t have home cultivation in it then we don’t need it.’
Cannabis is a food and a holy sacrament for those using it for religious purposes and should be legal for people to grow according to our constitutional rights.
The act of growing is therapeutic also, which may help our stressed-out state.
Princeton University’s Landscape and Urban Planning report from earlier this year, found that household gardening supports emotional well-being and benefits even more so for self-identified, low income and female gardeners. No more is this provision needed than for the people in the state that use cannabis medicinally.
Although Jake’s Law passed over a year ago, legal medical cannabis has still been extremely difficult to access. Many provisions to expand access have yet to be implemented, and although the Department of Health maintains that there is no shortage of cannabis, there have been and currently are limits on what patients can purchase and many needed strains of cannabis are discontinued, not carried or sold in limited amounts only.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, patients, many of which are immuno-compromised, have had to wait in long lines, many times for hours, sometimes in extreme weather and without access to restroom facilities. Some patients can barely endure the ride to an often far away ATC, let alone sitting for hours and not all patients have caregivers who can help.
One patient, Jeff, has a doctor’s recommendation for an unlimited supply for his terminal condition, but there’s no way he could fulfill it through ATCs alone with prices still at $400+ an ounce, and patients can’t even buy in ounces now. Having to make more trips and buy in smaller amounts keeps prices unnecessarily high.
Jeff was using what energy he had the last couple years to passionately advocate for medical cannabis, but his condition has worsened to the point that he needs others to be his voice.
Home cultivated cannabis offers affordability, availability, variety, and quality control. There are home systems now that make it easy, affordable and safe. With unforeseen legal challenges and continued delays, waiting for industry expansion to offer competitive pricing is not the answer for needed affordable access now. Patients can no longer afford to wait and shouldn’t have to suffer from lack of access when we’re talking about a plant one can grow themselves.
It seems the supply issues are getting worse and will only continue to do so, if the state legalizes. Shortages of legal cannabis are common after legalization, which can be devastating for patients and why all these states have some form of home cultivation provisions for them.
Illinois had 21 cultivators and 37 dispensaries when the adult-use law went into effect and shortages on cannabis are projected for a year or more. These numbers are double of what New Jersey has now and expansion will likely be slow. Patients there have found relief in being able to grow their own. Illinois also decriminalized five plants in their adult-use legalization.
With the state looking to make revenue and anticipating out-of-state-sales, a supply agreement from ATCs is of little assurance when they’re slow to provide for 100K patients now.
Many patients are dissatisfied with some of the state licensed growers and patronizing alternative treatment centers as the only legal means to obtain cannabis is unjust and inadequate.
There are many people in the state that this medicine helps and the state should not continue to make it so difficult for them to get. Keeping a medicinal plant illegal to grow is wrong.
For patients especially, the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to this access and it’s about lives saved, not dollars lost by the state or industry, therefore leadership should embrace it, and legalize it.
Jo Anne Zito, Coalition for Medical Marijuana of NJ, Inc.
Located at: Seattle
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