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. 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 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. It 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 not traditionally supported homegrown. As many advocates called for cannabis homegrown within adult-use reform, Scutari seemed to become more amenable to homegrow. Instead of never, 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 was passed in 2009.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington) removed homegrow from the Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) before it passed the Health Committee. He chaired the committee and had the power to do so. That was after the bill had passed the State Senate with the homegrow provision. Advocates were deeply disappointed it was removed from CUMMA.
Grassroots activists, without the money nor connections to the Statehouse have been pushing for homegrow since. Most of their pleas have fallen on indifferent ears.
There are a myriad of problems in New Jersey’s medical cannabis industry. Many are skeptical of their ability to transform into a vibrant adult-use industry without cutting their patient services. The problem is that former Governor Chris Christie set up an industry that can behave like a cartel.
Growing plants would allow individuals and patients to focus on a strain that works for their condition without having to worry whether it or something similar will be available for a dispensary. When it is available, it is outrageously expensive.
Only with the legalization of adult-use cannabis are lawmakers starting to take an interest in homegrow.
Some legislators were said to be uninterested in the passage of homegrow. They did not think it would generate much money. With the booming gardening industry and a subsidiary of Scott’s Miracle-Gro called Hawthorne that funded the referendum effort, perhaps things have changed.