Legislators are working on a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana program, but the Murphy administration already is a step ahead and has announced its own expansion plan
Gov. Phil Murphy this week made good on his promise to rapidly expand the medical marijuana program in New Jersey, but his unilateral move may put the Legislature’s own expansion plan in jeopardy.
The push to further open the state’s medical marijuana program and advance bills to offer second chances for individuals who get caught with small amounts of drugs comes after months of legislative starts and stalls. It also reflects leaders’ inabilities to pass a plan to legalize adult recreational use that Gov. Phil Murphy has long urged.
Accordingly, plan B, they have said, is to significantly expand the current medical cannabis system and push through a separate bill (S-3205) for expunging the records of individuals with arrests or convictions for low-level marijuana crimes.
Murphy said he’s open to signing both bills, but “the devil will be in the details.”
Sweeney had tied the legalization bill, NJ S2703 (18R), to the two other measures relating to the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry and criminal justice reform.
It’s tempting and easy to blame former Governor Chris Christie for everything that’s wrong with New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. Christie’s from the old school and was generous with contempt towards anyone who begged to differ.
Christie’s predecessor Jon Corzine signed medical marijuana legislation into law with the clock winding down on his term. So it was left to Christie to implement and regulate a medical cannabis program he never wanted.
They came. They saw. They waited. And waited some more.
New Jersey marijuana legalization was the talk of the Statehouse on Monday, with an estimated 100 speakers arriving with the hopes of convincing their legislators about legal weed – one way or the other.
Instead, it was just a game of “hurry up and wait” – over six hours of palm-wringing and thumb-twiddling before the topic was even considered for discussion.
While the parties are closer than ever to a deal on legalization of cannabis, it’s unlikely all the details – and ayes – will be nailed down for a vote on Feb. 21.
Governor Phil Murphy, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have reportedly reached agreement on two major issues that have held up passage of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act (S2703), the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act (S10) and s3205, which revises certain procedures for expungement of records of conviction.
There’s a good possibility a deal will be announced this week on legislation to authorize adult-use cannabis, expand the medical marijuana program and provide a path for expungement for marijuana possession offenses.
Several sources told NJ Cannabis Media a deal may be imminent. Multiple sources have said the same thing to other media outlets.
Part 2 of NJ Cannabis Media’s special report on stigma and the cannabis industry.
How important are words in fighting stigma surrounding an industry that is based on a plant?
Consider the changes made to New Jersey Bills S2703 and S10.
Unfortunately, Bill S10 has fallen victim to the acrimony between Gov. Phil Murphy and state Sen. Steve Sweeney, both of whom are Democrats. Will the governor and senate majority leader play nice for once and pass it into law? Their track record suggests not.
Despite Gov. Murphy’s and Sen. Sweeney’s shared leadership with the state party in power, they’ve accomplished very little in the post-Christie era, thanks in large part to their personal clashes. Sen. Sweeney insists on tethering medical cannabis reform to the larger, more complicated adult-use legalization debate.