Tags Posts tagged with "New Jersey"

New Jersey

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Although the governor of New Jersey Chris Christie has absolutely no plan to legalize marijuana prior to him being forced out of office at the turn of 2018, one state lawmaker completely intends to grease the wheels of the legislative machine in order to prime the state for the coming of legal marijuana.

On Monday, state Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, submitted a piece of legislation directed at establishing a taxed and regulated marijuana industry throughout the state.

The proposal, which is designed to give adults 21 and over the freedom to purchase marijuana in a manner similar to beer, will begin shaping “New Jersey’s legal recreational marijuana program for years to come,” Scutari wrote in a special guest column for the Star Ledger.

Opening New Jersey up to a legal cannabis trade has been a hot topic of discussion for over the past year, with countless reports emerging, many recently, showing that lawmakers were simply waiting for Governor Christie to end his term before getting serious about this reform.

But Scutari, one of the leading lawmakers pushing for total legalization in the Garden State, says “we have to get the ball rolling and educate the legislators,” if we want to ensure the issue has a fighting chance at making its way to fruition early next year.

“We’ve got to work it so it will be ready for a new administration come January,” he told NJ Advance Media.

However, Scutari, like many other lawmakers all over the country, is still concerned about whether U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to shakedown states with legal marijuana on the books. Although no plan of attack has been confirmed, enough has happened in recent weeks to give the cannabis reform advocates reason to believe that some unwanted change is right around the corner.

A memo issued last week indicates that Sessions wants prosecutors to seek more prison time for drug offenders. The Alabama prohibitionist has also hired a task force to reevaluate national policies pertaining to legal marijuana, and he has repeatedly babbled on about how he feels it is necessary to be consistent and enforce federal law.

The main takeaway is that Sessions appears to be searching any legitimate reason he can scrounge up to close the door on the cannabis industry in the coming months.

Even President Trump, who said he would support states’ rights with respect to marijuana legalization throughout his entire campaign, has hinted that not even medical marijuana states would be safe if his administration decides to bring down the hammer on legalization. In a recent signing statement, Trump essentially said that the medical marijuana protections approved by Congress would be easily disposed of if his people needed to enforce federal marijuana law.

Despite all of this uncertainty and madness, Scutari says “legalization is working in states that have approved it, and we can’t afford to roll back progress with a renewed focus on the failed ‘War on Marijuana.’”

“I’m convinced it’s time to move ahead with regulating, taxing and legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes in New Jersey,” he wrote.

However there is very little to no chance that Governor Christie would ever sign his name on a bill that was looking to legalize recreational marijuana, legislators are under the impression that the person who takes his place following the upcoming November election will be ready to move on this reform without much consideration at all.

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Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie stunned critics this past Wednesday by stepping up and expanding the state’s medical marijuana program, signing his name on a bill allowing post-traumatic stress disorder to be added to the program’s list of qualified medical issues. On Thursday, the Republican governor, who has previously characterized the efforts to expand medical marijuana as a “Front for legalization,” signed his name on a proposal that includes PTSD sufferers in the state’s medical marijuana program.

Highlighting that close to 20 percent of the veterans who served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are living with PTSD, Christie states the new law “Would provide struggling veterans and others with the ability to use medical marijuana to treat PTSD.”

The law requires the patient’s doctor or medical physician to confirm that conventional medical treatment is useless. Assemblyman Tim Eustace, the lawmaker responsible for moving Assembly Bill 457 through the legislature, stated that while adding PTSD the list of medical issues that would allow patients to use cannabis is a victory, New Jersey’s law remains far from comprehensive.

Eustace told North Jersey.com that he plans to address the issue of adding more qualified conditions in the near future, as well as make a push to allow edible cannabis products for children suffering from epilepsy. Currently, New Jersey ‘s medical marijuana program only provides patients with a handful of serious medical issues to access the program.

Christie’s supports adding PTSD to the state’s list of qualified medical issues which comes weeks after more than 18,000 people signed a petition on Change.org calling on him to add his signature to the bill.
Christie can’t run for re-election in 2017 because of the state’s term limits law. Ironically, veterans hoping to get their hands on medical marijuana will need to find a doctor outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs to make it happen.

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Decades ago, in 1976, New Jersey citizens decided that Atlantic City should be able to run casinos. This actually helped save the city from going bankrupt. Now, it has been four decades, and the city is once more in danger of going bankrupt. That is why people are wondering whether or not Atlantic City should be the only place in New Jersey to allow the legal sale of marijuana. State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) stated that he plans to introduce a measure this week that would allow voters to choose whether or not they support legalizing marijuana by adults 21 or older in Atlantic City.

The Attorney General’s Office would manage AC’s cannabis market the same way that it does casinos, the bill reports. Fifty percent of the proceeds from twenty percent sales tax would be given to the federal government to hold. Thirty percent of that would fund road projects while ten percent would pay for women’s health programs as well as drug enforcement attempts. Albeit he is an advocate of legalization and decriminalization, Gusciora states that the main goal of this bill is to generate money for Atlantic City, which has seen fifty percent of its casino revenues fade away since four casinos have already closed.

“It’s a challenge if they can even meet the milestones the state has set up,” Gusciora stated. “The thing they need is to generate real dollars — something Atlantic City can’t do on its own, and generate more tourists. Right now, there are too many tourists who decide to go to Delaware, the Poconos, and New York.” Voters in Nevada will decide on November 8th whether recreational cannabis should be legalized. Gusciora hopes his measure will pass the legislature before the summer recess begins on June 30th, “to keep Atlantic City competitive with Las Vegas,” he concluded.

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Leo Bridgewater said that since he returned from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, three of his fellow soldiers have tried to kill themselves. Two actually did, but one, Phillip Dumé, survived. He and Bridgewater both testified on a measure that would make New Jersey put medical marijuana on the list of conditions that can be treated under the state’s medical cannabis program. Both men already have medical cannabis prescriptions because of issues in their knees, but if they did not, Dumé said, he would be dealing with many other issues.

“I tried to commit suicide when I first came back,” Dumé, a 28-year-old Trenton resident, said. “I was one of those guys.”

The cannabis he gets for his replaced knee also helps with other problems, Dumé added

“It helps me out. It’s one reason I’m able to speak to you guys,” he told lawmakers. “It helps me focus. It helps me calm down. It helps me sleep.”

After the two men and many others had testified, the committee voted unanimously, with one person, Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, abstaining. A similar bill was approved in March in the House but did not pass the Senate. 2015 by a 53-13 vote, but it died in a Senate committee. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, chairman of the oversight committee and a co-sponsor of the bill, states that he believes there is more of a chance that it will pass through both houses this year and become law.

“I think it’s a learning curve,” Gusciora said. “There have been more studies that have come out. Congress is debating whether to allow it in VA hospitals. Pennsylvania just passed a medical marijuana program that included PTSD. And who are we to challenge scientists and medical researchers that are recommending medical marijuana for soldiers?”

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A New Jersey marijuana advocate dubbed NJ Weedman says authorities “Exaggerated big-time” in charging him with distributing pot from his restaurant and cannabis church. Ed Forchion also said his arrest has drawn attention to his cause of legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.

“They just gave me another platform to continue my goal,” Forchion told The Trentonian on Thursday.

“They’re on the wrong side of history.” Forchion was arrested Wednesday along with 10 other people after a raid of his restaurant, NJ Weedman’s Joint, and the attached cannabis church that he opened last year across the street from Trenton City Hall.

He had sued Trenton police last month, saying they infringed on his religious rights by shutting down the cannabis temple for staying open too late. He described a police estimate that $19,000 in marijuana was confiscated as crazy and disputed the distribution charges he faces because he says police didn’t catch him selling marijuana to anyone.

“Just about everyone here is a smoker. So, yes, there’s weed here,” Forchion said.

“But there’s no distribution going on. They exaggerated big-time.” Acting Mercer County prosecutor Angelo Onofri said Thursday that the narcotics task force had received information that Forchion was distributing marijuana and had received complaints about “Constant foot traffic in and out of the establishment at all hours.” Police say they found more than 1,100 grams of marijuana, 32 grams of edible marijuana candy, more than a pound of marijuana butter and a jar with $85 in it that said “Nothing is free donate.” Forchion said sharing is part of “The weed culture” and a lot of people come in with marijuana to share.

“I share because I care, and it’s wrong for them to criminalize that,” Forchion said.

“Sharing is not selling. We’re not running any kind of illegal enterprise out of here.” He said he’s looking forward to taking the case to trial and believes the public is on his side regarding marijuana laws.

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There are five medical cannabis dispensaries in New Jersey, and three of them have had their business pages terminated by Facebook, stopping what activists call “an integral place” for a consumer to be updated on what strains would work best for respective conditions and where they could find lower prices for those strands. Compassionate Sciences in Bellmawr, Garden State in Woodbridge, and Breakwater Treatment and Wellness in Cranbury all had their pages terminated this week.

Apparently, they were shut down because Facebook’s policies specifically state that you cannot advertise drugs, tobacco, or guns. Also, the medical cannabis Facebook accounts were shut down even though they have been legally allowed to work in New Jersey since 2011. The shutdowns are similar to actions taken by big social media names in another part of the United States. In 2015, Facebook even took down the page for the Harborside Health Center, a dispensary in California, even though it is now back up.

“It’s doing a real disservice to the patients of New Jersey,” Peter Rosenfeld, a board member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey, stated. “They’re treating it like they’re selling marijuana illegally when it’s a fully sanctioned nonprofit that’s controlled and regulated by the state of New Jersey.”

However, Arielle Aryah, a representative for Facebook, stated in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press that the accounts were “removed for violating our Community Standards.” Over 5,500 patients have signed up for the medical cannabis program, but only three hundred have actually participated. Amy Marie Keller, 40, of Roselle Park in northern New Jersey, reported that she used to check one of the dispensary’s pages all the time. Keller has Variegated Porphyria, a condition that does not allow her blood to take in much oxygen and can result in both chronic pain and seizures. According to her, knowing when the strands that helped her out were available was extremely important.

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The biggest opposer of marijuana in all forms has been Chris Christie, the Republican presidential candidate and Governor of New Jersey. However, members of the New Jersey senate hosted a hearing on Monday about passing a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal uses.

philly.com reports that the Democratic-controlled New Jersey Legislature is making movements towards putting forth a law that would allow adults over the age of 21 to buy pot, whether they have a medical license or not. Similar to the laws in other states, smoking marijuana in public would remain illegal. Senator Nicholas Scutari wrote the bill and stated on Monday that legalizing and taxing marijuana would be a billion dollar industry that would be taken out of the black market.

CBS also noted that law enforcement officials, health professionals, clergy and other experts were in favor of legalizing
pot in New Jersey at the hearing in Trenton. Scutari has stated that getting a full marijuana industry running correctly would be quite the task. The bill he would like to pass is solely for gaining the tax benefits that states such as Colorado have seen after legalizing marijuana. However, Governor Christie has spoken out against legalizing marijuana because he believes it is a gateway to other more dangerous drugs:

“As a former federal prosecutor, I’ve been the most outspoken person in this race on this issue. I am completely, 100 percent opposed to drug legalization; that’s different than being for treatment.”

Although he is very opposed to legalizing marijuana, the presidential candidate strongly supports finding some sort of treatment for drug addicts and having some type of rehabilitation. In the past, he has supported bills that allow nonviolent drug addicts to receive therapy rather than go to prison.

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Eighteen months after introducing a bill that would legalize the use of recreational marijuana in New Jersey, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari will preside over a hearing Monday that will grant only supporters to testify.

“I am going to start positive, then open up the floor to the people are against it,” stated Scutari.

Opponents will get their chance at a future hearing, he stated.

With a governor who strongly opposes legalizing recreational marijuana use, there is a great deal of time to give everybody who wants to share their words an opportunity to do so, he stated.

He admits he thinks opponents offer “Shallow arguments” to make their case.

“A journey of a thousand steps starts with the first,” stated Scutari, who as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the hearing.

As both a governor and a candidate for president, Christie has called marijuana a “gateway” drug that is harmful to children. He has stated that if elected president, he would challenge the states that legalized the use of recreational marijuana.

Under the bill, local elected officials could impose an ordinance prohibiting a marijuana shop or any marijuana-related business from opening, and dictate how many would be allowed, hours of operation and licensing fees and regulations.

Sales tax and application fee revenue would be dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund, drug enforcement and prevention efforts, and women’s health programs, which Christie has cut since taking office in 2010.

No action will be taken on Scutari’s bill, Monday.

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Governor Chris Christie is one of the loudest voices against marijuana and he is doing whatever it takes to stay in the top 10 potential republican candidates for the 2016 presidential election. During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Christie said if he would overturn legal marijuana laws in states that have passed them (Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Alaska).

Governor Christie said, “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it until Jan. 17 of 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana as president of the United States.”

Majority of Republicans disagree with Christie

Governor Christie has lagged in polls in the GOP presidential race, however, he is receiving a new burst of publicity as he speaks out against marijuana. Christie’s views put him at odds with several other Republican candidates who say that the states should be able to decide how to deal with marijuana.

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, a majority of Republicans disagree with Christie’s stance. 54% of respondents said that the federal government should not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana. The poll also found that 39% of Republicans support the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Marijuana tax revenue is blood money?

A few months ago, Governor Christie said the tax revenue generated from marijuana is blood money. Christie, however, spent $82,594 of taxpayers’ money at the concession stands in MetLife Stadium during the 2010 and 2011 football seasons

Christie said. “To me, that’s blood money. I’m not going to put the lives of children and citizens at risk to put a little more money into the state coffers, at least not on my watch.”

Christie recently legalized internet gambling in New Jersey

John Stewart made an interesting point recently. Governor Christie recently legalized internet gambling in New Jersey. Gambling is addictive and frowned upon by federal law.

“Well there is a difference, though, to be fair,” Stewart said. “If you smoke too much pot, no one comes to break your fucking knees.”

Authored By: Michael Berger

Michael Berger is the president and founder of Technical420, an independent research firm focused specifically on the cannabis sector. He was working for the equity research department at Raymond James Financial Inc., when he recognized a need for a service that provides up-to-date research and analysis on companies that operate in the cannabis industry. Mr. Berger studied finance and economics at Florida State University and is working toward achieving his CFA charter.

Sincerely,

Michael Berger

Founder/President 

Technical 420 LLC

C: 305-458-9982

E: michael.berger@technical420.com

W:  www.technical420.com

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