11/25/19 By DAN ULLOA
Long-time advocates and new activists gathered in Trenton today to rally for cannabis legalization and the lack of home cultivation of cannabis or “homegrow” for medical marijuana patients.
Homegrow is especially popular and a rallying point for many activists because it would benefit patients, who due to their illness, cannot work a great deal and are subsequently having issues paying for expensive medical marijuana (or clinical cannabis), on an exceedingly lean budget. Many of these people will search for the best hydroponic system for beginners in order to obtain the plants for their medical purposes from their homes. Being able to grow one’s own cannabis to treat a condition would be one way to solve that. Because they have a fear of getting arrested, they don’t want to grow it illegally, which itself is relatively easy.
Medical marijuana from dispensaries can amount to hundreds of dollars a month. Thus, homegrow is seen as a viable alternative. In addition to the price, they were angry at the poor quality of cannabis from the medical dispensaries in the state. This echoed comments made by others.
“If I have to march every couple weeks, then you’ll see me,” said Derlyn Jones “DJ” Stokes to the crowd regarding the need to fight persistently for change.
Among those gathered were Ken Wolski, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey (CMMNJ), CMMNJ Board Member Jim Miller, Edward “Lefty” Grimes, leading activist and host of Sativa Cross Ignorance is No Excuse podcast, and the prominent radical activist Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion.
A prominent activist and patient Jeff Oakes was unable to attend according to Lefty. The protest was organized by DJ Stokes and Sanjay Chaudhari with support from the aforementioned activists.
“This isn’t just me saying this, there’s 200, 300 people involved in this. We have a louder voice,” said Chaudhari regarding the value of rallying activists. He added that he felt homegrow was a reasonable demand. Chaudhari is a patient himself in and experienced in growing other plants.
Fighting the Good Fight for Homegrow
Homegrow is an issue many Trenton insiders have conceded is not possible right now, despite the grassroots demand and its inclusion in legalization elsewhere in the country.
“Legalization not corporatization!” the crowd chanted multiple times.
A variety of pro-cannabis activists joined Lefty’s podcast, including Brian Powers, a long-time radical activist and host of “#NJRR Live” on New Jersey Revolution Radio who said thousands of activists are needed to flood the Statehouse and smoke inside to demand homegrow, the stopping of the arrest of patients, and to demand concessions.
“You’re just kissing their ass for favors,” he said if that’s not done and traditional lobbyist tactics are deployed.
“I want to storm that statehouse armed with pounds of weed, smoke, and go tell themselves to fuck themselves!” Powers said to the applause of the crowd, citing the examples of the labor movement and Martin Luther King fighting successfully for change.
On Lefty’s podcast, Wolski argued that it’s more logical to simply fight for homegrow than fighting the corporate issues. But many disagreed with him.
“Corporate cannabis is going to ruin everything,” said one activist, believing that the product and customers would suffer if Big Pharma entered into the market. He added that in Colorado, big conglomerates have begun to control the industry to the detriment of small businesses and those seeking strains they’re not selling.
The issues they describe are the issues that come with the nature of the current economic system.
Cannabis reform has become quite popular, polling over 60 percent in the state and nationally. Someone summed up the situation with the blockage of adult-use cannabis as “four assholes ruining it for millions.”
“A minority is strangling the majority,” said an activist.
The issues that patients can’t keep guns they bought was an issue some lamented as well.
The rally was planned before the defeat of cannabis reform in the legislature last week since many were advocating it be included in that bill as well.
Some strident activists feel the planned referendum will likely include the language of the bill that failed, S. 2703, which they did not support because they did not find it sufficiently inclusive or progressive regarding criminal justice. It was also bereft of homegrow.