420 Reform, NJ 2nd

3/3/20 By DAN ULLOA

Amy Kennedy is running for Congress and claims to support rescheduling cannabis as 420 reform despite strong connections to the prohibitionist group SAM. She is running to be the Democratic nominee in the New Jersey Second Congressional district to replace the defected Jeff Van Drew.

Van Drew won the seat in 2018 as a Democrat after the incumbent Republican Frank Lo Biondo retired. Van Drew then became a Republican when it seemed he could not win the Democratic primary due to his conservative views.

Cannabis is a Schedule I drug, meaning it officially has no medical benefit. This greatly hampers research. If a drug was going to be rescheduled to Schedule II, it would be easier to study, but still illegal. If a drug were taken off the list, it would in effect be made legal. Kennedy would like it to be a Schedule II drug.

The Schedule of drugs is a ridiculous system. For reference, cocaine is a Schedule II drug.

Amy Kennedy is the wife of Patrick Kennedy, a well-known prohibitionist. As the wife of a Kennedy, she could bring in a lot of money and clout to the race. 

In addition to Kennedy, Brigid Harrison, a Political Science Professor at Montclair State University, and Freeholder Ashley Bennett of Atlantic County are also running for the seat.

Kennedy is the only candidate in the field that has prohibitionist views.

Harrison recently said at a debate, “I advocate for removal of cannabis from the schedule of Controlled Substances. If that happens, individuals cannot be prevented from growing their own (for personal use) any more than the government can prevent one from growing tomatoes or eggplant.”

Homegrow is an especially contentious issue many grassroots activists are in favor of. 

Bennett said that “If marijuana is to be legal, so should the growing and cultivation of one’s own plants, with proper permitting, inspection and safety regulations.”

Harrison and Bennett also came out strongly in favor of the New Jersey ballot cannabis legalization 420 reform passing this November 3rd while Kennedy said, “As you know, the topic of legalization is currently in front of New Jersey voters, and I’ll defer to their judgment on it.”

Another candidate running is Fred LaVergne who ran a laughable campaign against Congressman Chris Smith in the fourth Congressional district in 2016. 

Harrison has already gotten key endorsements from Democratic County Committees. Winning endorsements from all the county committees in the district mean victory 9.5/10 times in New Jersey.

In a primary election, turnout is low so candidates seek to appeal to the most ideologically motivated individuals who are the most likely to drive turnout in their favor. Thus, there is a competition to win the 420 reform voting bloc.

The primary will be held on June 2nd. 

420 Reform SAM

Amy Kennedy’s husband Patrick was in Congress for 16 years representing Rhode Island. He is the son of the late Edward Moore “Teddy” Kennedy, a long-time Senator from Massachusetts.

His career ended ignominiously when he drunkenly rammed his car into a barrier on Capitol Hill while on Ambien. After going to rehab, he has become an advocate for mental health and a leading cannabis prohibitionist against 420 reform. His group, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is the leading prohibitionist organization in the country and took credit for defeating cannabis legalization in New Jersey last year. He met Amy at a political event and they subsequently moved to South Jersey, where she is from.

Incidentally even supporting a rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule II to facilitate research is a position that SAM opposes.

Kennedy is supporting decriminalization as SAM does claim to do. Decriminalization means that if an individual had a small amount of cannabis on them, a police officer would merely write them a ticket akin to a parking ticket rather than arresting them and subjecting them to the court system. New York passed a decriminalization bill last June. However, decriminalization does not create a legal and equitable industry along with good-paying jobs. Without an industry, New Jersey does not get the millions in tax revenue it desperately needs.

The rhetoric from SAM on social media is quite amusing. They often decry the woes of cannabis and 420 reform using language akin to radicals to describe the evils of “Big Cannabis”. Moreover, they are opposed to the current medical marijuana (or clinical cannabis) regulatory regimes set up across the country.

So while they say they are for decriminalization, in reality, they seem fully against any sort of 420 reform.

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