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NJ CannaBusiness Association Hosts Webinar on Home Growing & Urges Action

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NJ Cannabis Home Growing Panel hosted by NJ CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) with Senator Gopal and advocates pictured

The NJ CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) hosted a webinar on cannabis home growing with legislative sponsor State Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) and leading advocates.

Growing cannabis at home remains a felony despite more than 100 legal New Jersey adult-use dispensaries open.

“Patients need their medicine, and the industry will not be hurt if we pass this legislation that Senator Vin Gopal has sponsored,” NJCBA President Scott Rudder declared.

Gopal has sponsored adult-use cannabis home growing legalization since 2021. But it has been difficult building support since then.

He noted how cannabis home growing is widespread in other states that legalized cannabis.

“If we’re truly legalizing cannabis, to do it for the purposes of social justice and criminal justice reasons, not for the reason of allowing companies to come out of State to make money in New Jersey, there needs to be a hg provision,” Gopal explained.

He noted Health and Human Services Committee Chair Joe Vitale (D-19) has requested multiple times that the bill be posted so his committee can have a hearing.

“Unfortunately, leadership has not approved that,” Gopal noted.

NJ Senate Leadership Opposition

While Gopal is the NJ Senate Democratic Conference Chair, “Leadership” means Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22).

Former NJCBA President Ed DeVeaux questioned NS about it previously on a similar webinar. NS has always claimed the New Jersey cannabis industry was too fragile for the alleged competition.

Gopal noted Senate Majority Whip Troy Singleton (D-7) is sponsoring a medical cannabis home grow legalization bill which he supports as well.

Quality Homegrown Cannabis

Leading New Jersey cannabis home grow advocate and Trichome Analytical CEO Kristen Gooede is among the leaders of the coalition that planted cannabis on the State House lawn this past April 2024.

“Home grow is a necessity at this point,” she declared. “Thus is a critical issue the State really needs to pay attention to. The industry really needs to support it.”

Gooede argued it would not affect licensed manufacturers and cultivators if patients could grow a few plants. She noted some in the industry are not aware it remains illegal.

Sickly Medical Cannabist Patients Needs

Leading advocate Andrea Raible explained she is a patient with epilepsy and brain damage who has had issues finding effective pharmaceuticals.

“I turned to cannabis just to keep food in my stomach,” she noted. “It cleared everything up. It did what I was told was impossible.”

“The strains you need, are they readily available?” Rudder asked.

“Not at all,” Raible replied.

She explained many rare strains are not profitable to mass produce in the manner licensed growers do with short harvests for example.

Effective Lobbying of Local Politicians

“What’s the feedback amongst your colleagues?” Rudder asked Gopal.

“It’s not coming up a lot,” Gopal noted.

“Reach out to your senator and assembly people. If someone lives in your district, you’re more likely to respond,” he added.

Gopal noted he also prioritizes responding to those from the towns in his district.

“It becomes much harder for leadership to say to 20 senators,” he noted.

“Everyone should be reaching out to their local legislators,” Raible declared.

Industry Grows High THC Flower for Profit versus Medicine

“What are you seeing being concocted?” Rudder asked Gooede regarding legal New Jersey cannabis flower.

“The industry is catering towards high THC adult-use. We’re not seeing that diverse terpene profile, not just pushing out THC,” she explained.

Gooede said most don’t have much of the cannabinoid CBD, which is healthy. THC is the most well-known cannabinoid in cannabis since it’s the one that gets you high. But the high is different depending on the other cannabinoids.

“More diversity is required for more medical needs,” she explained.

Gooede said a quality medicinal flower is not thought to be commercially viable. She noted short harvest cycles don’t create quality medicine.

“Sometimes you find benefits in 2 very different strains and want to cross them yourself,” Raible argued.

“Home grow allows you to have consistency. They’re growing it from seed. Every seed is going to be as different as you are from your sibling,” she explained.

“We need to educate our legislators on the most basic of areas,” Gopal explained. I haven’t smoked cannabis since I was in college. I was not fully educated on what home grow was until this constituent reached out.”

“They’re very concerned about the for-profit market,” he added.

He noted that pro-cannabis company towns want the tax revenue from adult-use sales.

Gopal noted that Vitale wanted Raible to know he is pushing the bill since she lives in his district in Middlesex County.

Rudder noted there are programs that help automate writing a letter to legislators on issues like home growing.

Gooede noted they have one on njhomegrow.com that does do that.

Home Growing is Hard & Won’t Hurt the Bottom Line

She explained that barely 10 percent of 10 percent of those who tried would be good at home growing cannabis since it is a difficult process. Those who did would still want to buy different kinds of legal cannabis.

“You’re still going to go the brewery and experiment with other types. It’s more of a hobby,” Gooede argued.

“It will not impact the New Jersey market,” Rudder said.

“It is a costly thing to do,” he explained.

To grow cannabis, you need a lot of growing equipment and time. Usually, you need special lightbulbs to pretend to be the sun, which runs up an electric bill.

“It’s prohibition that leads to proliferation,” Raible declared.

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) has made it very clear they have no power to change home growing versus the legislature.

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