On November 3 last year, voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly approved a ballot question asking whether the state should allow adults aged 21 and over to sell, possess and use cannabis. The Legislature and Cannabis Regulatory Commission was tasked with creating a regulatory framework for recreational cannabis, with a constitutional amendment that would officially legalize cannabis kicking in on Jan. 1, 2021. However, with lawmakers still negotiating key sections of the legislation, the state still hasn’t passed legislation that would launch the recreational market.
Robert Williams, a retired constitutional law professor at Rutgers Law School, says that nearly two months after voters approved cannabis legalization, the commission hasn’t created any regulations or implemented any laws, a situation he calls “odd.” Although state lawmakers have already crafted and passed enabling legislation consisting of two bills to set the ball rolling, Gov. Phil Murphy hasn’t signed any legislation into law.
The governor, who had cannabis legalization as one of his campaign platforms, is holding off on signing the legislation until lawmakers add a provision to levy fines on underage marijuana users. According to a proposed change his office sent to legislators, anyone younger than 21 found with one ounce or less of cannabis would be fined $250 while the possession of one to six ounces of cannabis would carry a $500 fine. Along with decriminalizing cannabis, the goal was also to ensure that minors were protected, Murphy says.
Activists also argue the bills don’t do enough for the communities that were disproportionately affected by marijuana laws. Police in New Jersey are particularly tough on marijuana crimes, with Black people being three and a half times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people, despite relatively similar usage rates. Other issues holding back the legislation include the capping of the number of available licenses for the first two years and giving employers the right to test their employees for THC.
Levying fines on underage people who use cannabis goes against the legislation’s objective, which is to limit interactions with police, especially among Black youth. ACLU of New Jersey executive director Amol Sinha asks why minors should be burdened with criminal records if the state is passing laws to clear criminal records of people with cannabis-related offenses.
With the cannabis legislation hanging in limbo, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has asked state prosecutors at all levels to dismiss or, at the very least, delay any marijuana charges that would otherwise be considered legal under the pending legislation.
Aside from the legal gymnastics going on in New Jersey, cannabis firms elsewhere are thriving. For example, Green Hygienics Holdings Inc. (OTCQB: GRYN) is poised to grow its revenue explosively given that it has a capacity to cultivate more than 800 acres of USDA Certified Organic hemp while the average hemp farm in the entire North America is only 15 acres big.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Green Hygienics Holdings Inc. (OTCQB: GRYN) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://cnw.fm/GRYN
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