Thursday, November 12, 2020

CMMNJ’s Adult-use Cannabis Recommendations

Assembly Appropriations Committee Hearing, 11/12/20 
RE: A21, Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, & Marketplace Modernization Act

Date 11/12/2020

The Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New Jersey, Inc. (CMMNJ) has recommendations for the implementation of adult-use cannabis in the state:

Financial Considerations:

The anticipated financial savings with the legal, adult use of cannabis in New Jersey greatly outweigh any costs associated with the implementation. 

Representatives of some municipalities have argued that they should be entitled to reimbursement for certain costs including training of Drug Recognition Experts, retraining of drug-sniffing dogs, and even rewriting ordinances that forbid the legal marijuana industry from operating within their jurisdictions.

These claims fail to take into consideration the tremendous savings that New Jersey municipalities, and the state itself, can anticipate when the vast majority of marijuana arrests are no longer going to occur. 

Gone will be expenses related to:

  • law enforcement, including surveillance, arrest, and detention;
  • court costs, for the criminal prosecution of marijuana cases;
  • incarceration of those convicted of marijuana offenses; 
  • parole supervision upon release; and,
  • recidivism, as the whole wasteful and expensive process starts over again.

The financial impact of these marijuana arrests and incarcerations do not stop with the individual who is unlucky enough to be caught. An arrest affects the entire family. Having a parent in jail is an Adverse Childhood Event that leads to a lower socioeconomic status for the family, a greater risk of interactions with law enforcement, a greater risk of substance abuse and other health problems, and a greater dependence on welfare and other social services. 

Repeat these arrests enough times in a community and the poverty rate of the entire community rises. Trenton’s poverty rate is 28%, twice the national average. Newark’s poverty rate is 29%; Atlantic City’s is 36%; and Camden’s is 38%.

In addition to avoided costs, there will be modest tax revenue gained from the legal sale of cannabis to adults, along with the far greater economic benefits associated with the creation of an entirely new industry in the state.  

Additional taxes or fees on the sale or processing of cannabis should be opposed as this is not following the word or spirit of the constitutional amendment that clearly spelled out the only taxes that should be applied. Also, added fees will only drive up the price to the consumer and encourage black market competition. 

Decriminalization: Pass into law S2535.

Home Grow: Allow registered New Jersey patients to grow 6 plants each for cost savings and consistent supply, with minimal impact on the legal industry. 

Equitable Cannabis Industry Licensing: Rebuild individuals and communities damaged by the decades-long war on marijuana.

De-schedule Cannabis: See testimony from the marijuana rescheduling hearings in April 2018 at the New Jersey Office of Attorney General.

Medical Issues: Reinvigorate implementation of the Jake Honig law.

Release Cannabis Prisoners: Release all those who are currently incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses; expunge nonviolent cannabis offenses from criminal records, without cost to the inmates or former inmates. 

Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC): Continue staffing the (CRC) with individuals who have knowledge of the Endocannabinoid System, and who are supportive of cannabis reform. 

CMMNJ also supports the recommendations of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (David L. Nathan, MD, DFAPA, President, Board of Directors

  • Government oversight of cannabis production, testing, distribution, and sales
  • Detailed labeling of cannabis products with health and safety information
  • Prevention of non-medical underage cannabis use through:
    • Evidence-based education about the risks of cannabis use
    • Child-resistant packaging
    • A ban on packaging, marketing, and advertising that attracts underage users
    • Penalties for adults who enable diversion
  • Taxation of adult-use cannabis to fund equity programs for communities harmed by the drug war
  • Protected rights for limited home cultivation of cannabis
  • Expungement of cannabis arrests, charges, and convictions from criminal records
  • Diversity in all sectors of the cannabis industry

Thank you, for your time and consideration.

Ken Wolski, RN, MPA
Executive Director
Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, Inc.
219 Woodside Ave.
Trenton, NJ 08618
609.394.2137 (home/office)

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