Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Proposed resolution in support of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults in New Jersey

WHEREAS, the New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) adopted a Resolution in March 2002 that:

  • Recognized the therapeutic value and safety of medically recommended marijuana; and,
  • Supported legal access to medically recommended marijuana for patients in New Jersey who are under the care of a licensed health care provider; and,
  • Urged the Governor of New Jersey and the New Jersey State Legislature to move expeditiously to make medical marijuana legally available to New Jersey residents who can benefit from it; and,

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) was signed into law in January 2010; and,

WHEREAS, New Jersey’s CUMMA recognized that marijuana is a safe and effective treatment for a wide range of diseases, symptoms and conditions; and,

WHEREAS, the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) has been one of the most restrictive programs in the U.S., and it has the most expensive medical marijuana in the country at over $500 an ounce; and,

WHEREAS, out of New Jersey’s almost nine million residents, only about 30,000 patients in the state have actually been able to gain access to the therapeutic benefits of marijuana because of the highly restrictive nature and prohibitive costs of the MMP; and,

WHEREAS, the State of New Jersey (SONJ) currently makes possession by adults of small amounts of marijuana illegal; and,

WHEREAS, bona fide patients in New Jersey are still being arrested and still going to jail for the therapeutic use of marijuana; and,

WHEREAS, in 2013 law enforcement officers in the SONJ made 24,067 marijuana possession arrests; and,

WHEREAS, the SONJ spent over one billion dollars in the last decade on enforcement of marijuana possession laws; and,

WHEREAS, the existing laws concerning small amounts of marijuana waste the enforcement resources of police, prosecutors and courts that could be better spent on keeping the SONJ safe from serious crime; and,

WHEREAS, minorities in the SONJ are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than Caucasians, despite similar rates of marijuana use; and,

WHEREAS, an arrest for a small amount of marijuana in the SONJ can lead to up to six months in jail, loss of a job, a driver’s license suspension, up to $1,225 in fees and fines, immigration consequences, loss of student financial aid, and eviction; and,

WHEREAS, despite the prohibition of marijuana and the approximately 800,000 marijuana possession arrests that occur in the United States each year, federal government data estimates that 111 million Americans have tried marijuana and more than 30 million Americans use marijuana each year; and,

WHEREAS, in 2014 the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association, whose members are primarily responsible for prosecuting marijuana possession arrests, voted to publicly support the legalization of marijuana, subject to reasonable regulations; and,

WHEREAS, the editorial boards of the New York Times, Star-Ledger, and the Times of Trenton have endorsed the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana; and,

WHEREAS, the SONJ could receive hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue from the taxation of regulated marijuana sales to adults; and,

WHEREAS, this new tax revenue can be used to reinvest in our communities, and provide significant improvement in the overall public health of minorities and the residents of the inner cities of the SONJ; and,

WHEREAS, regulating marijuana in a State-controlled system will limit access to marijuana to adults aged 21 and over in licensed locations; and,

WHEREAS, regulation will ensure strict controls over marijuana advertising, labeling, quality, and use, while preventing access to minors; and,

WHEREAS, driving under the influence of marijuana will remain illegal in the SONJ, and regulating marijuana will not change that; and,

WHEREAS, marijuana has been successfully legalized and regulated in Colorado, California, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Vermont and Washington D.C.;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED by the NJSNA that:

  • the legalization of marijuana is the most efficient and effective way to meet the needs of the vast number of state residents who can benefit from marijuana therapy; and,
  • the legalization of marijuana will end the wasteful and destructive criminal justice policy that disproportionately affects minorities and inner-city residents; and,
  • the legalization of marijuana will provide new funding to improve the public health of minorities and inner-city residents of the SONJ; and,
  • the legalization of marijuana will result in more fair and effective criminal justice and drug policies that encourage a public health approach to drug use and abuse, rather than just law enforcement involvement; and,
  • the NJSNA hereby urges the Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign legislation to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults in the SONJ.


Respectfully submitted,

Kenneth R. Wolski, RN, MPA
November 5, 2018


References:

1. New Jersey State Nurses Association Resolution Concerning Therapeutic Marijuana: https://cmmnj.blogspot.com/2018/08/2002-medical-marijuana-resolution.html

2. New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2008/Bills/PL09/307_.HTM

3. The New Jersey Department of Health Medicinal Marijuana Program 2015 Annual Report and 2015 Biennial Report: http://nj.gov/health/medicalmarijuana/documents/annual_biennial_report2.pdf

4. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora: Medical Marijuana Regulations Too Burdensome: http://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/asm-gusciora-medical-marijuana-regulations-too-burdensome/

5. UNIFORM CRIME REPORT State of New Jersey 2014: http://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases16/2014_uniform_crime_report.pdf

6.” Marijuana arrests have serious consequences,” New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform:  https://www.njumr.org/criminal-justice-reform/arrest-consequences/

7. “Regulating Marijuana will allow law enforcement to target serious crime,” New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform:  https://www.njumr.org/facts/public-safety/

8. “Public Health,” New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform: 
https://www.njumr.org/facts/public-health/

9. “About Us,” New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform: 
https://www.njumr.org/about-us/

10. Marijuana Arrests in New Jersey:
https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/8813/8980/8519/2014_01_15_MarijuanaArrests_NJ.pdf

11. TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF THE LEGALIZATION, TAXATION, AND REGULATION OF MARIJUANA FOR ADULTS by: UDI OFER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION OF NEW JERSEY:
https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/6014/4769/3729/2015_11_16_MJ_Test.pdf

12. The War on Marijuana in Black and White:
https://www.aclu.org/report/war-marijuana-black-and-white?redirect=criminal-law-reform/war-marijuana-black-and-white

13. Editorial, Star-Ledger Editorial Board, “Time to legalize marijuana,” Apr. 8, 2013: http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2013/04/time_to_legalize_marijuana_edi.html

14. Editorial, New York Times Editorial Board, “Repeal Prohibition, Again,” July 26, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/07/27/opinion/sunday/high-time-marijuana-legalization.html

15. Editorial, Times of Trenton Editorial Board, “N.J. prosecutors make strong case for legalized marijuana” April 06, 2014:
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/04/editorial_making_the_case_for_legalized_marijuana_in_new_jersey.html

16. Legalizing marijuana endorsed by NJ Municipal Prosecutor’s Association:
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/04/nj_municipal_prosecutors_association_endorses_marijuana_legalization.html

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