New Jersey has a complicated past when it comes to marijuana policy. An outgoing Governor in 2010 signed a medical marijuana bill that was passed by New Jersey’s Legislature. It was a victory that was celebrated by many, myself included. But then Chris Christie came into office, and things got implemented at a snail’s pace. New Jersey is home to one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the nation.
Recently New Jersey’s program expanded to include PTSD. The addition was signed off on by Governor Christie, but only after a lot of foot dragging, and an epic amount of nudging and urging from reformers and elected officials in New Jersey and beyond. Chris Christie has made it very clear, for several years, that he does not support legalization in any way, and would veto any bill that came to his desk that would legalize recreational marijuana. Get Christie to sign the PTSD bill was like pulling teeth, so I believe him when he says that he will not allow legalization to occur in New Jersey while he is Governor.
But, that hasn’t stopped elected officials from trying to get New Jersey on the right side of history. No less than three bills have been introduced that would legalize recreational marijuana. Two of the bills would legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol, similar to what other states are doing right now (Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Colorado). But the newest bill seems to be generating the most buzz in the media, as it would treat marijuana more like tobacco than alcohol. Per Philly.Com:
The newest proposal, introduced last month by Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R., Morris), would allow cannabis to be sold the same way as tobacco, to anyone over 19. Carroll, a Libertarian, admits the measure is bold and more “far-reaching” than other marijuana bills.
Though some media reports have said the bill would allow cannabis to be purchased in convenience stores, Carroll said his bill “simply legalizes the product, and doesn’t specify where it can be sold.” It also does not limit the amount. A companion bill has not been introduced in the state Senate.
Because the campaign slogan ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol’ has polled so well, and gained traction with voters, the legal age of 21 has been applied. But there has been discussion throughout the years as to what the legal age should really be. A lot feel, myself included, that if you are old enough to vote for marijuana reform, you are old enough to possess, cultivate, and consume marijuana. But, as I touched on earlier, regulating marijuana like alcohol polls much better than regulating marijuana like tobacco.
I don’t have high hopes for the bills in New Jersey, entirely because of Chris Christie. But as the elected officials that introduced the bills keep pointing out, this is how the conversation get started. No state legalized marijuana overnight. It’s part of a process, and comes with time. The first step to get the ball rolling is introducing a bill and getting New Jersey’s Legislature talking about it. There have been desires in the past to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, but with the growing momentum for reform sweeping the country, now is as good a time as any to achieve reform in New Jersey.
image via Wikipedia