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Power to the Jersey People
Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Will Be on Us
It seems to me an unjust law is no law at all.
- Saint Augustine
Due to the abject failure of this Democrat-led New Jersey legislature with the usual 19th century bullshit from useless Republicans, our government, thankfully, has punted the responsibility of legalizing marijuana to us, the citizens. Not sure deciding whether a plant is legal or not should necessarily fall to a vote, but that’s where we are now. You might recall, I called for this during this past spring’s implosion of the year-long marijuana bill (S2703). And so the matter will indeed move to the ballot in November of 2020.
Waiting that long seems idiotic, why not this November, you might ask? A fair question, and one I proffered before my experience in politics figured two reasons to wait that long – some members of this lame body may lose their gigs over this fiasco and help secure the number for a cold legislative redress in early 2020 or the overwhelming hatred of the dunce in the White House that will sweep in every inch of progressive breath to overwhelm voting booths across this mostly blue state.
Currently legalizing weed in Jersey has a 60 percent approval, so the numbers are there. Trump is running again in 2020 and he has a nearly 70 percent disapproval rating in the Garden State. Yeah, it is just a matter of getting people to the polls.
Until then, there has been some progress to first expand or level the legal blockades to medical marijuana (long overdue) and most importantly a move to alleviate some of the draconian laws and medieval penalties for those who wish to imbibe.
Throughout the brutal process to get legislators’ heads out of their collective asses and help us bring New Jersey into the 21st century and infuse the state with shitloads of funds for schools, fire and police departments and to curtail the insanely rising property taxes, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (the smartest person in local politics I have covered in over 30 years) prevented his colleagues from voting on the bill expanding the medical program (S10) until he could get enough votes for the recreational marijuana bill. But after the March collapse, Sweeney announced in May that he would have a bill on Governor Phil Murphy’s desk by June’s end and he delivered. Last week Murphy signed Honig’s Law, named after Jake Honig, who was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in 2012, a cancer that traveled to his brain. He underwent dozens of rounds of chemotherapy, proton radiation and surgeries at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia but succumb a few days after Murphy took office. He was seven years-old.
Throughout the entirety of the Chris Christie administration, Jake’s parents, Mike and Janet Honig of Howell, NJ bought dried cannabis in order to distill oil for their son. But inevitably each month they would run out of the medicine halfway through. The short-sighted, suck-ass medicinal marijuana law enacted in 2010 set a strict two-ounce monthly purchasing limit, disallowing the Honig’s to ease their son’s excruciating pain. This prompted his father to routinely express outrage that it has taken lawmakers so long to change the rules of an antiquated and quite frankly mean-spirited program to allow patients to buy more marijuana. Mike told NJ Advance Media, “When Jake was off his medical marijuana, he would vomit, he would be nauseous. He was would be in so much pain, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t sleep. He was agitated."
Now I won’t say Christie, or the NJ government, killed little Jake Honig, but they did not assist in easing his agony. And all because of weirdly constructed, badly researched laws enacted federally in the 1930s only to be overturned as unconstitutional and then rammed into the equally shortsighted and plainly stupid 1970s Controlled Substances Act that helped a ton of gangsters, cartels and the mob get plenty rich over the past half century, while seven year-old boys die in pain.
Before we bid farewell to our intermittent updates on this ongoing putrid silliness there is the matter of decriminalization, which is the very least we can do on the recreational end.
After the governor signed the Honig bill in a ceremony at Tommy’s Tavern on Killer Route 9 in my old stomping grounds in Freehold, Murphy was asked about decriminalization and a proposed bill by State Senator Sweeney in May – “I think we can’t allow a system where 600 people are gonna get arrested this week — 450 or more of color,” Murphy said. “Anybody who thinks status quo is acceptable has not taken time to understand the status quo."
And that’s the nut. This is a major step in real, binding justice reform, which is always a laff riot in DC at the federal level, despite tons of lip service and empty campaign promises by the current and certainly past administrations. The laws here are total and utter bullshit. Even cops are tired of it. According to recent FBI data, New Jersey law enforcement arrests more people for marijuana possession than every state except Texas and New York. To put a finer (and sadder) point on it, African Americans are arrested for marijuana possession at a rate three-times higher than white people, despite similar pot usage rates between the groups, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.
These asinine laws are not only atavistic and imbecilic, they are starkly racist. A Jersey trifecta!
But fear not! We are slowly but surely crawling from pre-historic thinking. The new Honig law will likely add dozens of medical marijuana providers, greatly increasing capacity from the six providers currently operating. This is excellent economic news for the state and at least some steps in the direction I expect us to go and why I supported Governor Murphy’s election.
Having written all of this, to hades with politicians.
Power to the Jersey People!
© James Campion July 11th 2019
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. and his new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon”.
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