Uncle Cliffy Applauds Expansion Of New Jersey Medicinal Cannabis Program
Clifford Robinson played for the New Jersey Nets from 2005-2007 and lived in New Jersey after he retired from the National Basketball Association. Because of that Clifford has always supported cannabis reform efforts in New Jersey.
Unfortunately, cannabis reform has been hard to come by in New Jersey this decade due to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The winds of change are picking up though now that New Jersey has a new Governor (Phil Murphy).
Today New Jersey announced that it would be expanding its medical cannabis program, which is something that the Uncle Cliffy team applauds. Below is more information about today’s announcement via our friends at the Drug P0licy Alliance:
Today, Governor Phil Murphy announced steps to expand New Jersey’s long-stalled Medicinal Marijuana Program. The Governor acted quickly after taking office, issuing an executive order mandating the Department of Health to review the program and make recommendations for improvement. The announcement today is the result of this executive order.
The changes include:
- Five new qualifying conditions, including chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, chronic pain of visceral origin (relating to the stomach), migraines, anxiety and Tourette Syndrome;
- Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) currently operating will be able to open satellite locations and an additional grow site in order to increase the supply of medical marijuana;
- Registration fees will be reduced from $200 to $100 for a medical marijuana card;
- All patients will be able to access edible forms of marijuana;
- The monthly limit will be raised from 2 ounces to 4 ounces;
- Patients will be able to register at more than one ATC.
Advocates applauded the Department of Health and Governor Murphy for the quick action.
“We want to thank Commissioner Elnahal and Governor Murphy for moving so quickly to expand the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act,” said Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This action will help thousands of patients for whom medical marijuana is the best option for relieving their suffering and improving their quality of life.”
The Drug Policy Alliance led the campaign to pass the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and has continued to work to see the program effectively implemented. The Drug Policy Alliance submitted a petition to the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel in support of adding chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions.
The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act was signed by Governor Jon Corzine right before he left office in January 2010 due to advocacy by the Drug Policy Alliance and partners. Then incoming Governor Chris Christie was charged with implementing the law. Patients and advocates have criticized the slow implementation—eight years later the state has only five Alternative Treatment Centers where patients can access medical marijuana—and the burdensome regulations the Christie Administration promulgated.
What New Jersey Needs to Know About Cannabis Legalization
Clifford ‘Uncle Cliffy’ Robinson played for the New Jersey Nets from 2005-2007 and was a longtime resident of the state. Cliff witnessed firsthand the failures of cannabis prohibition in New Jersey, which is why he supports cannabis legalization efforts that are currently underway in the Garden State.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has called for cannabis legalization on a number of occasions, and polling is very favorable for adult-use legalization in New Jersey. However, a lot of hard work is ahead in order to free the plant in New Jersey. Nothing is a guarantee, which is why New Jersey residents need to contact their lawmakers.
Fortunately, there are a lot of amazing freedom fighters on the ground in New Jersey fighting very hard to get New Jersey on the right side of history. Below is more information via our friends at the Drug Policy Alliance. Please get involved if you are able:
Congress and numerous states are moving to legalize marijuana this year, building on positive outcomes in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, D.C. In Vermont, Governor Phil Scott is expected to sign the state’s marijuana legalization bill today, making it the 9th state to legalize marijuana – and the first to do so via state legislature – in a rebuke to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who rescinded Obama-era guidance this month allowing states to implement their own marijuana laws with limited federal interference.
On Tuesday, a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance, From Prohibition to Progress: A Status Report on Marijuana Legalization, will show how and why marijuana legalization is working so far.
On Tuesday, January 23 at 1pm (ET) / 10am (PT), DPA will host a press teleconference to discuss the report’s findings with key policymakers and elected officials:
- Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director, Drug Policy Alliance (moderator)
- Jolene Forman, Staff Attorney, Drug Policy Alliance (report author)
- Reggie Jones-Sawyer, California State Assembly Member and author of the Legal Cannabis Protection Act
- Colorado State Representative Jonathan Singer
- Shaleen Title, Commissioner, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission
Members of the press are invited to join Tuesday’s teleconference. Please contact Tony Newman for call-in info.: 646-335-5384
From Prohibition to Progress finds that states are saving money and protecting the public by comprehensively regulating marijuana for adult use. There have been dramatic decreases in marijuana arrests and convictions, saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of thousands of people.
Marijuana legalization is having a positive effect on public health and safety. Youth marijuana use has remained stable in states that have legalized. Access to legal marijuana is associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioid use, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders. DUI arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, have declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize marijuana. At the same time, states are exceeding their marijuana revenue estimates and filling their coffers with hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Marijuana criminalization and enforcement have been a massive waste of money and have unequally harmed Black and Latino communities,” says Jolene Forman, staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. “This report shows that marijuana legalization is working. States are effectively protecting public health and safety through comprehensive regulations. Now more states should build on the successes of marijuana legalization and advance policies to repair the racially disparate harms of the war on drugs.”
New Jersey, New York, and numerous other states have also introduced bills to legalize marijuana this year.
Roseanne Scotti, New Jersey State Director for Drug Policy Alliance states that the report provides strong support for New Jersey’s efforts to legalize marijuana. “This report answers the questions that elected officials and the public have been asking about how marijuana legalization has worked in other states,” says Scotti. “The findings are extremely positive and provide important lessons on how New Jersey can structure its marijuana legalization law so that it will be fair and equitable and provide benefits for all New Jersey residents.” The Drug Policy Alliance has launched a campaign to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in New Jersey.
The report’s key findings include:
Marijuana arrests are down. Arrests for marijuana in all legal marijuana states and Washington, D.C. have plummeted, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars and sparing thousands of people from being branded with lifelong criminal records.
- The total number of low-level marijuana court filings in Washington fell by 98 percent between 2011 and 2015.
- The total number of marijuana‐related court filings in Colorado declined by 81 percent between 2012 and 2015, and marijuana possession charges dropped by 88 percent.
- In Washington, D.C., marijuana arrests decreased 76 percent from 2013 to 2016, with possession arrests falling by 98.6 percent.
- In Oregon, the number of marijuana arrests declined by 96 percent from 2013 to 2016.
- In Alaska, the number of marijuana arrests for possession and sales/manufacturing declined by 93 percent from 2013 to 2015.
Youth marijuana use is stable. Youth marijuana use rates have remained stable in states that have legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
- In Washington, Colorado and Alaska, rates of marijuana use among high school students largely resemble national rates. These results are promising, suggesting that fears of widespread increases in use have not come to fruition.
- In Oregon, Nevada, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., marijuana regulatory programs are not yet established or are so new that they are unlikely to have affected youth use rates in an immediately measurable way. While rates of use vary widely in these states, they have mostly stabilized or declined over the years leading up to legalization.
Marijuana legalization is linked to lower rates of opioid-related harm. Increased access to legal marijuana has been associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioids, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.
- In states with medical marijuana access, overdose death rates are almost 25 percent lower than in states with no legal access to marijuana, and the reductions in overdose death rates strengthened over time.
- Legal access to medical marijuana has been associated with a 23 percent reduction in opioid dependence or abuse-related hospitalizations and 15 percent fewer opioid treatment admissions.
- An analysis of opioid overdose deaths in Colorado found that after marijuana was legalized for adult use there was a reduction of 0.7 deaths per month in the state and that the decades-long upward trend of overdoses began to decline after 2014, the first year of marijuana retail sales in the state.
Calls to poison control centers and visits to emergency departments for marijuana exposure remain relatively uncommon.
- In Oregon, less than one percent of calls to the state’s poison centers in 2016 were related to marijuana exposure.
- In Colorado, less than one tenth of one percent (0.04 percent) of the state’s 2.3 million emergency department visits in 2014 were for marijuana exposure.
Legalization has not made our roads less safe.
- DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. The total number of arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, has declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate marijuana for adult use.
- There is no correlation between marijuana legalization and crash rates. The crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana.
Marijuana tax revenues are exceeding initial estimates. Marijuana sales in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and most recently in Nevada, began slowly as consumers and regulators alike adjusted to new systems. Once up and running, however, overall sales and tax revenue in each state quickly exceeded initial estimates. (Sales in California started on January 1, 2018, and no data are available yet. Sales in Massachusetts will not begin until July 2018. Sales in Maine are on hold pending approval of an implementation bill for the state’s regulated marijuana program. In D.C. no retail cultivation, manufacturing or sales are permitted at this time.)
- Marijuana sales in Washington generated $315 million in tax revenues in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
- Marijuana sales have generated almost $600 million for Colorado since sales began on January 1, 2014.
- By the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year, Oregon collected $70 million, more than double the predicted revenue.
States are allocating marijuana tax revenues for social good.
- Colorado distributed $230 million to the Colorado Department of Education between 2015 and 2017 to fund school construction, early literacy, bullying prevention, and behavioral health.
- Oregon allocates 40 percent of marijuana tax revenue to its state school fund, depositing $34 million into the fund so far. The state also distributes 20 percent to alcohol and drug treatment.
- Nevada’s 15 percent wholesale tax is projected to bring in $56 million over the next two years to fund state schools.
- Washington dedicates 25 percent to substance use disorder treatment, education and prevention. The state also distributes 55 percent of its marijuana tax revenues to fund basic health plans.
- Alaska will collect an estimated $12 million annually, which will fund drug treatment and community residential centers.
- California and Massachusetts will invest a share of their marijuana tax revenues in the communities most adversely impacted by drug arrests and incarceration, particularly low-income communities of color, to help repair the harms of unequal drug law enforcement.
The marijuana industry is creating jobs. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country. This number will only continue to grow as more states legalize marijuana and replace their unregulated markets with new legal markets.
The report also includes considerations for policymakers and advocates going forward:
We need to foster equity in the marijuana industry. The communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization have struggled to overcome the many barriers to participation in the legal industry. Some states and cities, however, are implementing rules to help increase equity and reduce barriers to entry in the marijuana industry.
- Massachusetts is adopting rules aimed at ensuring that people most harmed by marijuana criminalization can participate in the regulated market.
- In California, a prior drug felony cannot be the sole basis for denying a marijuana license. This mitigates the harms to low-income, Black, and Latino people who have borne decades of disproportionate arrests and convictions for marijuana offenses.
We need to reduce racial disparities and reform police practices. While marijuana legalization dramatically reduces the number of people arrested for marijuana offenses, it clearly does not end racially disparate policing. Police practices must be reformed to fully remedy the unequal enforcement of marijuana laws. It is widely documented that there are vast racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana laws. Black and Latino people are far more likely to be arrested for marijuana offenses than white people, despite similar rates of use and sales across racial groups.
We need to establish safe places for people to use marijuana. Consuming marijuana in public is illegal in all jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older. It is a misdemeanor in Nevada and Washington, D.C., and a civil penalty subject to fines and fees in all other states. This means that people who lack the means to pay the fines and fees, or those without homes or in federally-subsidized housing, risk being jailed for consuming a lawful substance. Public use violations are also disproportionately enforced against people of color, particularly Black people.
We need to promote marijuana decriminalization and penalty reductions for youth and young adults. In several states, marijuana legalization has had the unintended consequence of reducing historically high numbers of youth (under 18 years of age) and young adults (between 18 and 20 years old) stopped and arrested for marijuana offenses. However, these reductions are inconsistent from state-to-state. In some circumstances, youth now comprise a growing number of people charged with marijuana offenses. California’s approach is too new to be evaluated, but it appears to be a good step toward reducing youth and young adults’ risk of criminal justice involvement for marijuana-related conduct:
- In California, youth under the age of 18 may only be charged with civil infractions for marijuana offenses. They are no longer threatened with incarceration or financial penalties. Instead, they are required to attend drug awareness education, counseling, or community service.
- All marijuana offenses will be automatically expunged from a young person’s record when they turn 18.
- The penalties for most marijuana-related activities were either decriminalized or reduced for young adults 18-to-20 years old.
Cannabis Legalization Appears To Be Coming To New Jersey Soon
Yesterday was a big day for cannabis reform, especially in New Jersey where Clifford Robinson played for the New Jersey Nets from 2005-2007. Yesterday was Election Day in New Jersey, with voters selecting a new Governor to replace staunch cannabis reform opponent Chris Christie. As the Uncle Cliffy team has pointed out before, the 2017 Governor race in New Jersey featured Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno as the two major party candidates, and the outcome would largely determine cannabis legalization’s chances in New Jersey in 2018.
Phil Murphy was very clear during the campaign that he intended to help make cannabis legalization a reality in New Jersey if he won the race, whereas his opponent opposed full legalization. Fortunately for cannabis legalization efforts in New Jersey, and for social justice in the Garden State, Phil Murphy won the election. He doubled down on his campaign promise to end cannabis prohibition during his victory speech, as outlined below in a press release from our friends at NORML:
After making the legalization of marijuana a core issue in both his primary and general election campaigns, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy has claimed victory in the New Jersey gubernatorial election over Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.
In fact, in his primary victory speech, Phil Murphy proclaimed his desire to sign a marijuana legalization bill within his first 100 days in office.
“Candidates across the country should take notice, as Phil Murphy won the Governor’s seat soundly because of, not in spite of, his open and vocal support for legalizing marijuana – a position supported by 65% of New Jersey voters and 64% of Americans nationwide,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, “NORML looks forward to working with Governor-Elect Murphy and other stakeholders in the state to end the disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition and to implement the moral, economic, and scientifically sound policy of legalization and regulation in the Garden State.”
Polling data released this week by Predictwise/Pollfish Survey revealed that a 65% of New Jersey voters support legalizing marijuana outright.
Currently in New Jersey, a possession conviction of anything under 50 grams of marijuana can carry a sentence of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The ACLU-NJ found that police make a marijuana possession arrest in New Jersey on average every 22 minutes and that black New Jerseyans were three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, despite similar usage rates.
It will be interesting to see how things play out in New Jersey, and equally interesting to see how ramped up legalization efforts in New Jersey will affect surrounding states such as New York and Connecticut. Cliff Robinson was born and raised in New York State, and played college basketball in Connecticut. Cliff has seen firsthand the failures of cannabis prohibition in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, which is why he fights so hard to help reform efforts in those states and will continue to do so until all three states free the plant. Congratulations Phil Murphy, please keep your campaign promise!
N.J. Governor Race Will Likely Determine Legalization’s Chances In 2018
Clifford Robinson played for the New Jersey Nets from 2005-2007, and lived in New Jersey after retiring from the NBA after an 18-year career in the league. Having grown up in a neighboring state (New York), Robinson has spent a lot of time in New Jersey and has witnessed the failures of cannabis prohibition first hand. That’s why Clifford Robinson has always supported cannabis reform efforts in the Garden State.
Possession of less than 50 grams of cannabis in New Jersey carries a penalty of up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The penalties are even greater for possession of over 50 grams, and for cultivating or distributing any amount of cannabis. The state of New Jersey is arresting people for cannabis at an alarming rate, and to make matters worse, African Americans are being arrested at three times the rate of Caucasians. Cannabis prohibition in New Jersey is a failed, harmful public policy in every measurable way.
Unfortunately New Jersey is home to one of the biggest cannabis opponents on the planet – current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie once stated that he would veto a cannabis decriminalization bill, and was very clear as a candidate for president that he would crackdown on states that have voted to legalize cannabis. Chris Christie really, really hates cannabis and apparently those that use it. But, fortunately for the state of New Jersey Chris Christie is on his way out of office. In roughly two weeks the state of New Jersey will be voting for a new Governor.
The two major party candidates are Democratic nominee Phil Murphy, and Republican nominee Kim Guadagno. The two candidates disagree on issues related to cannabis policy. Phil Murphy has stated a number of times that he supports full legalization, while Kim Guadagno wants to keep adult-use prohibition in place (although she has expressed support for expanding medical cannabis in New Jersey).
According to a poll from last month Phil Murphy has a hefty lead in the race. But, as is always the case in politics, nothing is a sure thing. If you live in New Jersey and are a sensible cannabis policy supporter, make sure to vote in the November election and tell everyone you know to do the same. As media outlets in New Jersey have pointed out leading up to election day, the vote for New Jersey’s next Governor will largely determine the chances of cannabis being legalized in New Jersey in 2018. In theory anything can happen regardless of who gets elected, but it will be an extremely uphill battle to legalize in New Jersey if Guadagno wins. A Phil Murphy victory does not guarantee legalization, but it does significantly improve the odds of it happening.
A reform victory in New Jersey would be a victory for cannabis legalization efforts nationwide, as it would build momentum for reform victories elsewhere. Because Chris Christie has clung so hard to cannabis prohibition in New Jersey for so long, a lot of eyes have been on New Jersey from both the pro-reform and anti-reform communities. Two states in the Northeastern part of the country (Maine and Massachusetts) have already legalized cannabis and adding New Jersey to that list would be significant, especially since other states in the area are expected to legalize cannabis via legislative action sooner rather than later. New Jersey would be a huge cannabis reform domino if it were to fall.
Poll: Strong Support For Ending Cannabis Prohibition In New Jersey
While playing for the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) from 2005 to 2007, Cliff Robinson saw first hand that the failures of cannabis prohibition in New Jersey. Cannabis prohibition has a disproportionate impact on New Jersey’s African American community. Arrest data shows that African Americans are three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis in New Jersey compared to Caucasians.
In some parts of New Jersey, the disparity is even greater. In Pleasant Beach, New Jersey African Americans are 31.8 times as likely to be arrested for cannabis. That is obviously unacceptable. No one should be arrested for possessing and/or consuming a plant that has been found to be 114 times safer than alcohol. It is beyond time that New Jersey got on the right side of history and ended cannabis prohibition. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, such a move would have strong support from New Jersey voters. Per the poll:
Garden State voters support 59 – 38 percent allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Every listed group supports legalized marijuana, except Republicans, who are opposed 53 – 43 percent, and voters over 65 years old, who are divided, with 47 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed.
The biggest hurdle to legalization in New Jersey is its Governor, Chris Christie. Fortunately Chris Christie is on his way out of office, and a new person will be leading New Jersey after the 2018 election. As it stands right now, the front runner to succeed Governor Christie is candidate Phil Murphy. Democrat Phil Murphy has a 25 point lead over his Republican rival New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno according to the previously mentioned Quinnipiac poll. How does candidate Phil Murphy feel about cannabis reform? Per a recent NJ.com article:
Murphy promises to join states like Colorado that have legalized recreational use of pot. In fact, it’s part of how he plans to shore up a $1.3 billion tax hike in the state to help pay for all sorts of state spending programs he’s promised on the campaign trail.
For the record, candidate Kim Guadagno does not support legalization. A lot of time is left between now and Election Day, so it’s still anyone’s race despite Murphy’s enormous lead. But the recent poll results showing strong support for legalization, and the expressed desire to end cannabis prohibition by the upcoming election’s front runner is extremely encouraging. The Uncle Cliffy team is hopeful that legalization comes to New Jersey sooner rather than later. Free the plant!
New Jersey Event: Latinx Y Cannabis: Informando La Comunidad
The Uncle Cliffy team is passionate about cannabis activism, both inside and outside of the sports world. Cliff Robinson and the Uncle Cliffy team work closely with activists around the country to help free the plant, and to help end the stigma that surrounds the cannabis plant and those that use it.
A big push is underway to end cannabis prohibition in New Jersey. With Chris Christie on his way out, now is the time to start building the foundation for a successful 2018 victory. Cliff Robinson played basketball for the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) and was suspended for cannabis use while playing for the team. Cliff knows first hand that prohibition in New Jersey has failed, and that it’s time for a more sensible approach.
An organization that is doing tremendous work to help achieve the goal of ending cannabis prohibition in New Jersey is the Cannabis Cultural Association (CCA). CCA is hosting an event later this month that everyone should attend if they are able. Below is more information via the event’s Facebook event page:
Please join the Cannabis Cultural Association (CCA) as we host “Latinx en Cannabis: Informando la comunidad”
Marijuana is a word with roots in the persecution of Latinx in America. Yet, so few events or groups give space for that community. Because, all cultures use cannabis, we’ve done just that. For the first ever, we’ve put together an event in 100% Spanish and will be free for all those wishing to attend. The community will hear from various top industry leaders, medical professionals, activists and patient testimonials on how Cannabis is changing in America and overseas. In 2016, the majority of people arrested for Cannabis offenses were of Latinx descent, and while we make up a large percentage of the jail population, we are being left out and behind in the fastest growing industry in America. Communities have been lied to for the last century about Cannabis and have been made taboo. Today, we begin to change this perception and activate with the Latinx voice in Cannabis in the US and beyond!
2:00 pm Networking and light refreshments
2:15 pm Opening remarks “Porque estamos aqui” Nelson Guerrero CCA
2:30 pm Medical Panel “Doctors in Cannabis”: Local recommending doctors discussing, the trials and tribulations of the cannabis program and treating patients with cannabis.
3:15 pm Cannabis Testimonial Panel “Canna Stories”: First-hand accounts of positive cannabis experiences from families and patients
4:00 pm Entrepreneurship Panel “The highs and lows of Cannabis entrepreneurship” Discussions on the opportunities and the pitfalls of cannabis entrepreneurship
4:45 pm Knowing your rights Panel “Being safe with Cannabis and Immigration”: the legal do’s and don’t comes to Cannabis and your rights particularly when it comes to immigration
5:30 pm Activate the Community Panel “Get involved!”: Get active locally, learn about what you can do to help change our canna laws and move towards social justice reform
6:15 pm Closing remarks
7:00 pm Event Ends
When: Saturday, July 22 at 2 PM – 7 PM EDT
Where: Sheraton Lincoln 500 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken, New Jersey 07086