Speaking on New Jersey 101.5’s “Ask the Governor,” Christie took a call from one of his constituents on efforts by the legislature to move reform forward in the Garden State. The caller brought up prospect of using the projected tax revenue to either replace the regressive gas tax or simply have the additional revenue supplement the state’s budget, to which the Governor replied “…“There is nothing we spend in government that is important enough to allow me to willfully poison our children for that money. That’s blood money.”
Well Governor, 60% of the voters in the United States do not agree with you – and neither does your state legislature. Support among elected officials in New Jersey is rising faster than ever. Fresh off of a trip to Colorado to see first hand how the state that pioneered legalization handles their regulations, NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney said “I was on board before we went, but I am absolutely sold that this industry can be regulated. It’s safe, it’s well managed. Colorado has done an amazing job.”
It doesn’t hurt that according to a recent report by New Jersey Policy Perspective and NJ United for Marijuana Reform projects that the public coffers would add an estimated $300 million dollars a year in tax revenue.
However, nothing can move until there is a change in leadership in the Governor’s office. In recent his interview, Christie went one step further, exclaiming that “You’re damn right I’m the only impediment [blocking reform]. And I am going to remain the only impediment until January of 2018.”
So there you have it – the Governor proudly proclaimed that the only thing preventing the end of marijuana prohibition in NJ is Christie himself. Conveniently for the residents of New Jersey, the Governor is term-limited out and the next election is November 7th, 2017.
We have some dire news to share. This morning, President-Elect Trump announced his pick for Attorney General and it couldn’t be much worse for the marijuana law reform movement and our recent legalization victories.
Trump’s pick, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, is a militant prohibitionist. We could go into great detail how Senator Sessions has been an outspoken opponent against reform, but in this case his rhetoric is so off the wall…we’ll let his past statements speak for themselves:
“You have to have leadership from Washington. You can’t have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana … you are sending a message to young people that there is no danger in this process. It is false that marijuana use doesn’t lead people to more drug use. It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.”
“It was the prevention movement that really was so positive, and it led to this decline. The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
“Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to [marijuana] and it is not harmless.”
His former colleagues testified Sessions used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were “okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.”
Senator Sessions is clearly out in the deep end when it comes to issues of marijuana policy and he stands diametrically opposed to the majority of Americans who favor the legalization and regulation of marijuana. This could foreshadow some very bad things for the eight states that have legalized marijuana for adult use and in the 29 states with with medical marijuana programs. With the authority the position of Attorney General provides, Sessions could immediately get to work attempting to block the implementation of the recent ballot initiatives, dismantling a legal industry in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska, and begin conducting massive raids on existing medical and recreational retail stores.
We must be ready to fight back. We must be ready to mobilize in defense of all of our hard fought victories. We already have our opponents calling for a recount in Maine and prohibitionists in Massachusetts working to gut core provisions like home cultivation from their state’s initiative. With an assist from a newly minted prohibitionist Attorney General, things might get worse before they get better.
Help us send a message to President-Elect Trump and his Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions that the American people won’t stand for intervention into state marijuana programs and we want to move towards descheduling at the federal level and legalization in all 50 states.
According to the Associated Press, voters in Maine have approved Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act. The Associated Press’s final vote count is 50.17 to 49.83 percent.
“In 2013, over 70% of voters in the city of Portland decided it was time to reject the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and embrace legalization. Tonight, a majority of voters statewide agreed with that assessment. With the approval of Question 1, Maine has elected to take a sensible approach to marijuana and reject the flawed ideas of the past. Thanks to them, Maine will no longer arrest otherwise law abiding adults for choosing to consume a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol and tobacco and in the process generate tax revenue that will be used to greatly improve education and other vital state services.” said Erik Altieri, NORML’s new Executive Director.
Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act, permits adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow (up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants, and/or up to 12 immature plants) and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to two and one-half ounces of herbal cannabis) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The law imposes a 10 percent tax on commercial marijuana sales. Under the law, localities have the authority to regulate, limit, or prohibit the operation of marijuana businesses. On site consumption is permitted under the law in establishments licensed for such activity.
The new law takes effect within 40 days. Regulations for marijuana-related businesses are scheduled to be in place by August 8, 2017. You can read the full text of Question 1 here.
“To those who allege that marijuana law reform is a west coast phenomenon, tonight’s votes tell a different story,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “The majority of Americans throughout this country recognize that marijuana prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts young people and communities of color. That is voters are rejecting the failures of criminalization and embracing these sort of regulatory alternatives.”
According to the Associated Press, voters in Montana have approved Initiative 182, the Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative. The Associated Press’s final vote count is 58 to 42 percent.
“This decision restores the rights of patients and providers,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Voters were clear in 2004 when they initially enacted the state’s medical law, and they remain resolved in their opinion that state lawmakers ought not to restrict patients access to medical cannabis.”
I-182 expands the state’s medical marijuana laws. It permits licensed medical marijuana providers to serve more than three patients at one time and allows for providers to hire employees to cultivate, dispense, and transport medical marijuana. I-182 repeals the requirement that physicians who provide certifications for 25 or more patients annually be referred to the board of medical examiners. It removes the authority of law enforcement to conduct unannounced inspections of medical marijuana facilities, and requires annual inspections by the state.
The new law takes effect on June 30, 2017. You can read the full text of the initiative here.
According to the Associated Press, voters in Nevada have approved Question 2, the Nevada Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The AP’s final vote count is 54 to 46 percent.
“With victory in Nevada, it is safe to say that, this time, what happens in Vegas won’t stay in Vegas. Thanks to the support of a majority of voters, Nevada now joins the growing list of states that are rejecting prohibition and taking a smarter approach to marijuana. Success in Nevada will only inspire more Americans to stand up and demand an end to our nation’s embarrassing, failed policy of prohibition and this momentum will only continue to spread across the country.” said Erik Altieri, NORML’s new Executive Director
Question 2 permits adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow (up to six plants, including all of the harvest from those plants) and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis (up to one ounce of flower and/or up to 3.5 grams of concentrates) while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. (Home cultivation is not permitted if one’s residence is within 25 miles of an operating marijuana retailer.) Commercial marijuana production is subject to a 15 percent excise tax, much of which is earmarked to the State Distributive School Account.
“Voters in the western region of the United States continue to lead the way toward the eventual nationwide re-legalization of marijuana by responsible adults,” said NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano. “Despite nearly a century of criminal prohibition, marijuana is here to stay. Our state and federal laws need to reflect this reality, not deny it.”
The new law takes effect on January 1, 2017. Regulations governing commercial marijuana activities must be in place by January 1, 2018.
You can read the full text of the initiative here.