A new bill introduced by State Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) would legalize cannabis homegrow for medical and adult-use.
S. 3582 was introduced by Gopal yesterday into the Senate. It would allow for the cultivation of six plants for adult-use by one person and ten plants for medical use by those 21 and older. A patient or their designated caregiver can grow the plants. A house with more than one person who is 21 and older can grow up to 12 plants.
The charges for homegrow are much worse than possession charges and more similar to trafficking charges. Those found with more than ten plants would be subject to such charges.
There are no other sponsors, nor is there a companion bill yet.
Gopal also signed onto Senator Troy Singleton’s medical homegrow bill, which has been making steady progress, and a bill to notify parents if their child is caught with cannabis. The notification bill is likely to pass the legislature on Thursday.
Many passionate, longtime grassroots advocates were disappointed the passage of adult-use cannabis did not include homegrow.
The Fight for Homegrow
Senator Gerry Cardinale (R-Bergen), previously an opponent of legalization, introduced an adult-use homegrow bill earlier this year. He said he changed his mind on the issue after the referendum passed.
However, he passed away right before the final vote on legalization. Thus his bill, which did not have other sponsors, is in limbo, likely to die in committee.
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Judiciary Chair Nick Scutari (D-Union) have traditionally supported homegrown. However, as many advocates called for cannabis homegrown within adult-use reform, Scutari seemed to become more amenable to the idea of homegrow. Instead of never going to happen, he began to say that cannabis homegrow could be passed after adult-use implementation was signed into law.
Advocates have been fighting for homegrow since before New Jersey’s first medical cannabis bill passed in 2009.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington) abruptly removed homegrow from the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) before it passed the Health Committee he chaired after the bill had passed the State Senate with the homegrow provision. Advocates were deeply disappointed it was removed from CUMMA.
Since then, grassroots activists, without the money nor connections to the Statehouse that makes some bills sail, have been pushing for homegrow. Most of their pleas have fallen on indifferent ears.
With the myriad of problems from New Jersey’s medical cannabis industry, many are skeptical at their ability to transform into a vibrant adult-use industry without cutting the service they do provide to patients. The problem is that former Governor Chris Christie set up an industry that can behave like a cartel.
Growing their own plant would allow individuals and patients to focus on a strain (or cultivar) that works for their specific condition without having to worry whether it or something similar will be available for a dispensary. When it is available, it is outrageously expensive.
It is only with the legalization of adult-use cannabis that lawmakers are starting to take an interest in the issue of homegrow.
Some legislators were said to be uninterested in the passage of homegrow because they did not think it would generate much money. With the booming of the gardening industry and a subsidiary of Scott’s Miracle-Gro called Hawthorne that funded the referendum effort, perhaps things have finally changed.