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Cannabis Home Growing Protest at NJ State House Attracts Police

New Jersey activists planted a cannabis garden on the State House lawn on Earth Day which the police demanded they dig up.

It was a radical protest done without a simple protest permit. Most Trenton cannabis protests and rallies occurred after a permit was secured. It allows activists to do what they seek to do with the police merely observing.

Cannabis home growing remains a felony in New Jersey despite the more than 100 legal cannabis dispensaries now open in New Jersey.

The activists planted about 40 cannabis plants on the NJ State House lawn as a deliberate protest. 

“Real medicine is radical,” cannabis patient advocate Andrea Raible declared.

State Police Demand Home Grow Garden Torn Down

After the planting, the NJ State Police came over and insisted they remove it.

It’s state property, a cop said.

So they had to remove it right after they celebrated its completion.

The state police said they needed a permit. One officer noted the activist podcast non-profit Sativa Cross secures permits for their protests. However, this was not a Sativa Cross event.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) NJ advocate Chris Goldstein insisted it was a temporary protest. They offered the plants to the state police.

One cop then gave Goldstein the phone number to ask for a permit. A few minutes later, another one asked if they had the number.

When the cops questioned them, the protesters said they didn’t have a leader.

Goldstein and Raible gave their IDs to the cops.

The activists dismantled the garden quickly afterward. However, they were very unhappy about it. An advocate named Sam, who didn’t want his last name revealed, was very angry and antagonized the cops. 

“The police are making us remove some of the best plants to clean soil from the ground on Earth Day,” he noted loudly. “How do you guys personally feel about these being here?”

“We’re not here to be interviewed,” a cop replied.

“I don’t care. I want to ask questions. You don’t have to respond,” Recihbart declared. “This guy here seems to really want to do this.”

He noted the others seemed uncomfortable with his stance. After a while, another cop told him to be quiet. 

Goldstein defused the situation politely. The 8 cops who arrived on the scene were fairly friendly. Ultimately, everyone left without even a ticket written.

“Have fun putting patients in jail sir!” Reichbart exclaimed as they left.

Cannabis Home Growing Canopy versus 8 Plants

Initially, the activists roped off a 10 ft by 10 ft canopy for the weed plants they brought. They planted about 40 plants of different sizes and strains.

The activists created a garden because they wanted a change in the existing cannabis home growing legislative bills. It would allow medical cannabis patients to grow eight plants, with four being “mature” and four being “immature.”

They want to grow more than eight.

Raible explained the need for a patient to experiment to determine which is the best strain and flower for them. It’s known as pheno-hunting.

She added most wouldn’t ultimately wouldn’t be harvested.

“You need to at least keep the parents,” Raible argued.

“All these genetics (strains) are not found in the medical program in New Jersey. But they’re local to New Jersey,” Kristen Gooede of Trichome Analytical explained. “A lot … are not grown in the program because they take too long harvest and aren’t too yielding.”

She added most licensed cannabis growers want plants that take 60 days or less to grow. They also want plants to produce a lot of flower.

So, a patient looking to grow a rare strain that is not economically viable in the market to sell would benefit from the legalization of cannabis home growing.

Persuading Anti-Cannabis Home Growing Garden State Politicians

Goldstein jokingly called it the Nick Scutari Honorary Garden. 

Scutari is the NJ Senate President and a long-time advocate for the cannabis industry. However, he has remained against cannabis home growing for a few years. More than once, Scutari has said the industry was too immature.

Advocates have told Heady NJ legislators say his opposition makes gathering support for the bills very difficult. 

Gooede and Josh Alb of Cannademix have been successfully working to get cannabis industry operators to endorse medical cannabis home growing. Many of the independents that signed it are small, minority, women, and mostly locally owned.

Heady NJ is among the ancillary or non plant touching cannabis companies to sign the letter.

Fighting the Good Fight

Coalition of Medical Marijuana of NJ (CMMNJ) advocate Jim Miller held a sign demanding an informational hearing where the cannabis home growing would be discussed. 

The bill would need to pass multiple committees in both chambers of the legislature for it to possibly become law. But since that is so hard, he merely wanted the show of an informational hearing at this stage.

Goldstein wanted New Jersey to stop prosecuting those caught for cannabis home growing. He cited former NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal ordering a stop to the persecution of possession arrests in 2018. While they might have been stopped, afterward, there were arrests and prosecutions. But Goldstein argued it shows support, sends a message, and would be some progress.

“The context for this has changed pretty completely,” Goldstein added. 

Last year, Sativa Cross organized a large protest with the help of underground legacy operators. They planted a strain on the State House lawn they jokingly called “Murph OG” after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D). However there were no baby weed plants on the State House lawn to be found.

Seed Conference Held

Along with the protest at the State House, the cannabis home growing activists held a seed conference at Hub 13 featuring CMMNJ and Sativa Cross.

Many remained behind at the seed conference that saw speakers like CMMNJ advocate Mike Brennan and businesswoman Angela Speakman.

Dave Valese and Jeffrey Miller of Honey Grove Dispensary of Gloucester Township (which Heady NJ is advertising full disclosure) sponsored the conference. Others like Shore Grow Hydro and other professionals tabled there as well.

It was an otherwise quiet day in Trenton since the legislature was not in session.

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