BIG CHANGES COMING FOR MARIJUANA LAWS IN NEW JERSEY?

While New Jersey is currently one of 23 states that permits the use of medical marijuana, a new coalition of activists entitled New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) is pushing for complete legalization of the drug. NJUMR, which is comprised of an eclectic group of prosecutors, civil rights activists, and even police, says that the push for legalizing marijuana would prevent thousands of hours from being wasted by law enforcement. The group further states that legalization would reduce the disparate impact of marijuana policing on minorities, and that it could serve as a significant source of revenue for the state. 

"It is time to take marijuana out of our parks, and off of our street corners, and put it behind the counter," said ACLU Executive Director Udi Ofer. In addition to the American Civil Liberties Union, NJUMR is supported by a wide range of organizations such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, and NORML New Jersey.

Medical Marijuana Still A Complicated Issue

New Jersey currently has three state-licensed marijuana dispensaries which are authorized to provide medical marijuana to those with a valid prescription. While some residents have accused Governor Chris Christie of dragging his feet on expanding access to medical marijuana, Christie has responded by signing a law that goes into effect this week which allows the state dispensaries to provide edible forms of medical marijuana to children who are suffering from serious diseases.

The Department of Health informed the Associated Press on Friday that they have provided the state dispensaries with the rules and regulations required to adhere to the new law. Such regulations included details on lighting and ventilation requirements, as well as required label information for the edible forms of the drug. Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner further added that more changes would likely be made upon receiving input from the industry.

Across the Country, The Marijuana Landscape is Changing

While the issuance of medical marijuana is legal under New Jersey state law, federal law still prohibits its distribution even in states that otherwise permit the drug's use. In an effort to combat these potential contradictions, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have teamed up to introduce a bill in the Senate that would end a federal ban in states where medical marijuana has been made legal.

"They're most concerned about their kids being taken away by social services," said Gillibrand, speaking of families where one of the members is authorized to use medical marijuana by state law, but not by federal law. As a result of the current federal laws, Gillibrand says that "[Parents] forgo treatment or use other drugs that unfortunately have harsher effects and often harsh side effects."

Senator Cory Booker echoed Gillibrand's sentiments, saying that "This bill says enough is enough. By moving it to a Schedule 2 drug, it really opens the door for it to have a medical purpose."

If you or someone you know has been arrested for possession or consumption of marijuana, Smith & Doran can provide you with the legal assistance you need to protect your rights. Call us now at 973-292-0016 for a free consultation.

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