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News, Politics

New Jersey is Harshing the Vibe of Cannabis Legalization

Ashley Priest

by Ashley Priest

January 11, 2021 04:07 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
New Jersey is Harshing the Vibe of Cannabis Legalization

New Jersey legalized retail cannabis during the November elections. Laws were supposed to change on January 1st, 2020, but that is not what happened. Between the Senate, the Assembly, and Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, a stick was just tossed in the wheels of cannabis legalization in New Jersey. Those on the bike ride to recreational cannabis legalization in the state on January 1st, 2020, found themselves taking a tumble over the handlebars. You might say that recent actions have definitely harshened the vibe surrounding legalization.

During the November elections, citizens of the state of New Jersey voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would legalize recreational cannabis. In true political style, the Assembly and Senate apparently sent two different versions of the proposed bill to the desk of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. Besides having two different versions of the same bill, Mr. Murphy also had issues with the bill. Governor Murphy made a demand at the last-minute requiring punishment for underage citizens caught in possession of cannabis.

Currently, New Jersey’s cannabis legalization program is a shining star example of what the US government is capable of. In the state of New Jersey, cannabis is currently legal, but you can still be arrested for it, and there’s nowhere to purchase it. How is this legalization? The issue with legalization in New Jersey seems to be in the language. There are issues between the terms of ‘marijuana’ and ‘cannabis’. This is where it gets really confusing. In December, New Jersey decriminalized cannabis, but cannabis legalization would supersede decriminalization. Under decriminalization, there were no fines for underage possession of cannabis.

Hold Up, Wait, We Are Going To Ride Prohibition Till The Wheels Fall Off

Under new guidelines proposed by Murphy, civil fines would be assessed to those between the ages of 18 and 20 caught in possession of cannabis. These fines would range between $250 to $500. Now that’s a slick way to make a little extra cheddar. If you’re under 18, you’ll find yourself in juvenile court where it will cost you or your parents some form of financial turmoil undoubtedly. Also, as part of what is being called the “cleanup bill”, State Police would be directed to work with cannabis regulators in order to create standards for “Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts,” AKA people that are there to determine if you’re stoned at work.

I have something to say about this. How come there aren’t workplace and impairment recognition experts to identify individuals high on prescription narcotics? I cannot count the number of times on all my fingers and toes I have been at work with individuals that were obviously impaired by prescription drugs. This is such a waste of time, in my opinion, and nothing more than a stall tactic of clinging to draconian ways of the past. Let go already!!!

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  • Larger purchase limits
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It all boils down to the green, the kind that goes in your wallet. Cannabis could have very well been legal in the state of New Jersey right now. The reason it isn’t is because of lawmakers, imagine that! Cannabis legalization will eventually happen in the state of New Jersey, even if it takes refreshing the entire political hierarchy with newly elected officials. Citizens of the state are seeing the true colors of those who support them and those who don’t. Maybe if every citizen offered to pay 200 bucks to legalize cannabis, it might happen a lot faster. It seems lawmakers of the state really enjoy the green, just not the kind that citizens of the state of New Jersey voted to become legal on January 1st of 2020.

One Day There Will Be Cannabis Legalization in New Jersey, But When Will That Day Be?

The state of New Jersey will find out once the Senate Judiciary and Assembly Appropriations Committees reconvenes to discuss the clean-up bill. In the meanwhile, the state is left in a very vicarious place in regard to cannabis arrests. Authorities have, however, been asked to refrain from making low-level arrests regarding cannabis. The executive director of ACLU of New Jersey, Amol Sinha, was quoted by the media saying,

“This whole situation could have been avoided if lawmakers, advocates, and the public actually had time to read the bills & provide feedback. Better process yields better policy, but here we are. We’ve been at this for YEARS.”

Currently, old cannabis laws are still in effect in the state of New Jersey. This means that police could still arrest anyone for cannabis possession. Let’s hope they understand doing so is nothing more than a waste of resources, both time and financially, as prosecutors will not be able to do anything with the cases presented by officers. Voters in the state of New Jersey didn’t get out and vote for the fun of it; they did it because they wanted to see a change in outdated laws. New Jersey is setting itself up to be a shining star example of what to avoid with cannabis legalization. Hopefully, these are just roadblocks on the path to a phenomenal legal structure where patients will be able to feel empowered and have the option to choose!

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