New Jersey Homegrow Nick Scutari

Sativa Cross cannabis activist podcaster held a New Jersey homegrow protest and Cannabis Cup outside the district office of Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Union).

It was outside his office in Clark in Union County.

The summer is a difficult time to move controversial bills in Trenton since the Legislature rarely meets after the State Budget passes before July 1st and Labor Day. 

Little progress has been on the adult-use bill and medical New Jersey homegrow bill S 353 sponsored by State Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) or the medical homegrow bill for a limited number of plants S 342 sponsored by State Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington).

New Jersey homegrow is not something Scutari has ever championed in the 12-plus years he consistently sponsored cannabis legalization bills. Nor is it something he has said he believes could pass soon.

Sativa Cross Lead Organizer Edward “Lefty” Grimes said there is bipartisan support in the New Jersey Legislature, noting the late Republican State Senator Gerry Cardinale’s New Jersey homegrow bill. 

In addition, State Senator Jean Stanfield (R-Burlington) is a co-sponsor on the two New Jersey homegrow bills.

Lefty has been an activist for years but said his relationship with Nick Scutari is “hot and cold. I just hoped he would listen to us more,” he added.

“It’s really impossible to have a good relationship with someone who doesn’t have my best interests at heart and who’s never really been an honest broker. Scutari knows better than any lawmaker in Trenton what the consumers are up against,” Insider NJ columnist and cannabis advocate Jay Lassiter said. 

“He is clearly a handmaiden for corporate cannabis interests, and there’s a mountain of evidence to suggest that is so,” he added. “The votes might not be there, but we could have a fair hearing.”

Quite often, by the time a bill is scheduled for a committee hearing, it has enough votes to pass the committee as well as the State Senate or Assembly. The process of passing a companion bill in the other chamber can become delayed. 

“Having the hearing creates the climate where more people are accepting this,” Lassiter said. “Let the real obstacles reveal themselves.”

“There are probably 100 hurdles. For me to give Scutari the flack, it’s because he’s in charge, and he likes to take the credit for everything that is good about marijuana reform in New Jersey. And I think he deserves some of the credit, but if you’re going to take credit for the good stuff, you gotta be mindful of the role you played in the not-so-good outcomes,” he explained.

“Not everybody has that gardening touch. But the people who are poor and the people who are sick and need it forever, homegrow could be a matter of quality of life,” Lassiter said.

While the cannabis legalization coalition that pushed the 2020 referendum was large, the most prominent groups are now working on an array of other social justice issues. Others are more focused on New Jersey’s nascent adult-use cannabis industry. That includes both large corporations and those who would like to see small, minority-owned enterprises open their doors to customers.

After spreading the message to passersby, they went inside and spoke to an aide of Nick Scutari who said he was not available. However, he would relay the message they want New Jersey homegrow legalization put up for a vote in September.

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“At least decriminalize patients growing,” Lefty said.

“It’s definitely something we’ve obviously been talking about. I mean, obviously, talk is talk,” the aide replied.

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