Wednesday, January 6, 2021

CMMNJ’s Adult-use Cannabis Recommendations

CMMNJ’s Adult-use Cannabis Recommendations

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 12/14/20 

RE: Support with concerns, S21 

(Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, & Marketplace Modernization Act)

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

Financial Considerations:

CMMNJ believes that it is unconstitutional to add any tax to the sale of cannabis in New Jersey over and above what is specifically allowed by Ballot Question #1, the Constitutional Amendment that voters approved on November 3, 2020.

The ballot question consisted of five sentences. Two of these sentences concerned taxes: “Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.” S2703, or other legislation, may authorize a municipal tax, but no additional taxes are mentioned or permitted by the constitutional amendment.

Nor should additional taxes be necessary to achieve social justice goals in the state after the companion bill to S21, the Decriminalization bill, S2535, passes into law. There will be tremendous savings that New Jersey municipalities, and the state itself, can anticipate when most of the tens of thousands of marijuana arrests are no longer going to occur. 

Gone will be expenses related to:

law enforcement, including surveillance, arrest, detention and overtime;

court costs, for the criminal prosecution of marijuana cases;

incarceration of those convicted of marijuana offenses; 

parole supervision upon release of convicts; and,

recidivism, as the whole wasteful and expensive process starts over again.

Moreover, 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 child, a greater risk of interactions with law enforcement, a greater risk of substance abuse and other health problems, and a greater risk of 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. 

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

De-schedule Cannabis: While S21 deschedules marijuana, cannabis, and hemp, it continues to keep certain tetrahydrocannabinols as a Schedule I drug, inappropriately.

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. 

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

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 and the opportunity to address this committee.

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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