N.J. medical marijuana growers are ready to expand. Will Phil Murphy let them?

February 20, 2018

As New Jersey’s first medicinal marijuana provider six years ago, the founder of Greenleaf Compassion Center in Montclair said he and his partners drained their bank accounts when lenders would not touch them. They tangled with a distrustful administration of then-Gov. Chris Christie before and after they opened.

Now that the state has a governor who is willing to expand the medical marijuana program and legalize recreational cannabis, Greenleaf’s CEO Julio Valentin and other dispensary owners who took the early financial and legal risks say they are ready to step up and serve this growing market.

“I’ve proven myself before and I can do it again,” Valentin said in a recent interview. “Just give me the opportunity to do what I do.”

But despite Gov. Phil Murphy’s support of cannabis, his administration delayed what many expected he would do right away: adopt a medical advisory panel’s recommendation to add broad conditions like chronic pain and anxiety.

Doing so likely would have opened the door to thousands of patients. Murphy says he’s waiting for the results of a 60-day audit of the medicinal program before he discusses his next move.

Murphy officials are concerned New Jersey’s five dispensaries won’t be able to meet the demands of a larger patient base beyond the nearly 16,000 people enrolled in the medical program, according to insiders privy to the conversations.

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Menendez, Booker Among Senators Urging Feds to Respect Local Pot Laws

February 16, 2018

Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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As New Jersey officials move toward legalizing recreational use of marijuana, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is asking the Trump administration to respect local laws regarding access to weed.

New Jersey Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are among the lawmakers signing off on a letter urging the Senate Committee on Appropriations to continue Obama-era policies “to respect states’ laws regarding the regulation of marijuana” when finalizing fiscal year 2018 appropriations.

The letter argues that Trump administration policy changes toward marijuana under Attorney General Jeff Sessions have resulted in “disruption, confusion and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations—all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”

“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the letter said.

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New Jersey Should Legalize Marijuana

December 1, 2017

By Amol Sinha, Executive Director, ACLU of New Jersey

Close up of a pile of marijuana bud

New Jersey stands at a crossroads on a defining civil rights struggle of our time: the enforcement of unjust marijuana possession laws. Each year, New Jersey police have set new records for marijuana possession arrests, making the largest number ever in 2015: 24,985. Enforcement of marijuana prohibition exacerbates deep racial disparities in our criminal justice system and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

All of this for a substance that the majority of New Jerseyans and Americans — in both major political parties — believe should be legal.

Full story:  ACLU blog.

Lodi preparing for possibility of legal marijuana by considering new ordinances

November 28, 2017

by , Staff Writer, NorthJersey.com

In anticipation of Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s making good on his campaign promise to legalize marijuana, the Borough Council is taking a closer look at its smoke shop ordinances and considering new regulations.

“Before this happens, we need to have something in place,” Borough Manager Vincent Caruso said at a recent council meeting.

Lodi currently has three smoke shops.

Borough Attorney Alan Spiniello said at Tuesday’s meeting that he will look into the borough’s existing ordinances. Further action, he said, could include limiting the number of smoke shops in town.

Read more here…

Giving pot the green light

November 16, 2017

Payton Guion For The Star-Ledger

Now that a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey is likely to become law, leaders of the state’s 565 municipalities could soon face a choice.

Do they allow businesses to produce and sell cannabis in their towns, potentially reaping the benefits of a new industry and millions of dollars in tax revenue?

Or do they restrict pot sales, missing out on the money but possibly avoiding some of the collateral problems that may come with the sale of recreational marijuana?

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, would legalize the possession and personal use of small amounts of recreational marijuana across the state. The bill allows individual towns to decide if they will allow pot sales, but says the towns that don’t won’t receive their share of the estimated $300 million in annual tax revenue marijuana is expected to generate.

With Phil Murphy the governor-elect of New Jersey, towns could face these decisions in the coming months. Murphy has said he’d sign the bill within his first 100 days in office, though the incoming Assembly speaker, Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, suggested a more deliberate pace may be in store for such legislation.

Full story:  The Star Ledger

Marijuana retailers group forms, anticipating recreational legalization

November 15, 2017

By Lynda Cohen, ROINJ

One group is ready to turn marijuana into a booming business for New Jersey.

Anticipating legalization of the drug for recreational use, the New Jersey Marijuana Retailers Association is ready to work with other stakeholders to shepherd in responsible business practices and opportunities.

“Our goal is to have our members represent the most respected, business-focused and compliance-driven class of the licensed, marijuana-retailer businesses,” said association President Juan Carlos Negrin. “The NJMRA was formed with a mission to advocate, educate and to deal with legislative, licensing and regulatory issues affecting the marijuana retail industry at the state level.”

The association sees substantial economic opportunity for a number of industries, small business owners and entrepreneurs. These include farmers, growers and harvesters, the trucking industry, and suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.

With incoming Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and residents in favor of legalizing pot for recreational use, the association says the time is right.

A Quinnipiac University poll in September showed 59 percent of state voters support allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. About 38 percent were against it.

“With this polling data showing strong support to take marijuana sales out of the black market,” association Director Lorna O’Hara said, “we are forming this association to ensure not only that the retailers have a seat at the table, but also that their voice is heard. At the same time, we are setting the highest standard for those business owners who choose to be retailers in this industry.”

Full story:  ROINJ

N.J. Marijuana Retailers Association: Advocacy, Integrity and Growth

November 14, 2017

In anticipation of the state of New Jersey legalizing marijuana for recreational use, a statewide group is establishing an organization of responsible retailers to seek economic growth and jobs, advocate for members and help them navigate the challenges facing this emerging industry.

The New Jersey Marijuana Retailers Association – NJMRA.org – is ready to work with other stakeholders to shepherd responsible business practices and opportunities in this emerging industry.

“Our goal is to have our members represent the most respected, business-focused and compliance-driven class of the licensed, marijuana-retailer businesses,” explains Juan Carlos Negrin, president of the association. “The NJMRA was formed with a mission to advocate, educate and to deal with legislative, licensing and regulatory issues affecting the marijuana retail industry at the state level.”

The New Jersey Marijuana Retailers Association sees substantial economic opportunity for a number of industries, small-business owners, and entrepreneurs. These include farmers, growers and harvesters, the trucking industry, and suppliers, wholesalers and retailers.

The time is right for the NJMRA to form, due to administrations changing in Trenton this January and residents clearly in favor of legal recreational use. According to a Quinnipiac University poll in September, “Garden State voters support, 59 to 38 percent, allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.”

“With this polling data showing strong support to take marijuana sales out of the black market,” says Lorna O’Hara, Association Director, “we are forming this association to ensure not only that the retailers have a seat at the table but also that their voice is heard. At the same time, we are setting the highest standard for those business owners who choose to be retailers in this industry.”

New Jersey, where medical marijuana is legal, would join seven states and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational use: Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington state, Alaska, Maine, California, and Nevada. According to Businessinsider.com, the industry is on track to post $20.2 billion in sales by 2021.

When will pot be legal to buy in N.J.? Here’s the timeline.

November 13, 2017

By Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

When Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Republican Kim Guadagno in the governor’s race Tuesday night, a wide array of entrepreneurs and elected officials knew they could march ahead with something brand new in New Jersey:
Legalizing recreational marijuana.

Murphy campaigned on a promise to sign a bill to make pot legal, something that would usher in a new market that could be worth $1.3 billion.

And, of course, many of you are awaiting the day when you can legally light up in the Garden State.

Full story:  NJ.com

Lawmakers will drive the price of legal weed

November 12, 2017

by Erin Petenko, The Star-Ledger

Gov.- elect Phi l Murphy’s vision for New Jersey includes weed, and lots of it.

The Democrat has promised to legalize recreational marijuanause for people age 21 and older within the first 100 days of his administration. And if he and the state Legislature play their cards right, the price of pot could plunge, according to historical price data and national experts.

But the path to cheaper marijuana prices is unlikely to be straight andnarrow.

“New Jersey may fall into the camp of states with a strict market,” said Adam Orens, co-founder of Marijuana Policy Group. “And with strict markets, prices canbe an issue.”

Marijuana remains illegal in most states, and that means collecting reliable information on prices and price changes can be difficult. The best sources currently rely on crowdsourcing — people who buy and sell marijuana on the blackmarket, reporting their own prices.

Full story:  The Star-Ledger

New Jersey Could Legalize Marijuana Next Spring, Scutari Says

November 10, 2017

By 

As the smoke clears from the election, lawmakers, criminal justice reform advocates, and lobbyists are preparing for a greener Garden State with legalized marijuana.

New Jersey could enact legislation to legalize and tax marijuana as soon as April or May, said state Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Union), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Proponents say legalizing and taxing marijuana — a central part of Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s agenda — would bring hefty revenues into New Jersey’s budget, provide savings for law enforcement and courts, and potentially expunge marijuana convictions and clear pending charges for low-level drug offenses.

But crafting a new regime of laws and regulations around recreational marijuana is likely to be a time-consuming process for the Legislature. New Jersey could be the first state to legalize the drug without first decriminalizing it, and there are lingering questions about what legalization could mean for New Jersey and when the drug might be available for sale to recreational users.

Full story:  Observer.com