TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - Could New Jersey residents soon be allowed to legally grow marijuana at home?
As CBS2's Meg Baker reports, St. Sen. Vin Gopal sponsored a bill to allow anyone 21 and older to grow up to six marijuana plants at home.
"So to truly legalize cannabis home growers should be an option, "Gopal said. "It's no different than other states like California who have adopted this... . The reality is, as a country and as a state, we've spent billions of dollars on the failed war on drugs. And this is just one piece of making sure that it's truly legalized."
Police can no longer arrest people for possessing marijuana but there is no legal way to buy it right now. Marijuana industry expert Mike McQueeny says this could be a quicker way to access legal weed. Setting up dispensaries will take longer.
"It's going to take at least six months to make our initial rules and regulations, and then only at that point, will they start soliciting adult use licenses. And then it will take another 90 days for those licenses to get considered. And only then can they start the process of opening up," McQueeny said.
Medical patients could grow up to 10 plants. Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, has been pushing for this to open up access to more than 100,000 patients who only have 14 alternative treatment centers to choose from.
"We have some of the most expensive medical marijuana in the country," Wolski said. "So many patients are just, you know, have already been impoverished by their illnesses that they simply cannot afford this medicine."
There is a question of safety.
"Sixty seven percent of New Jerseyans voted yes for adult use cannabis. You know, they were voting for, you know, safe, and regulated cannabis, not the Wild West," he said.
Gopal says it would be up to local municipalities whether or not to allow dispensaries or growers.
Currently, if you are caught growing five or fewer plants, you face a fine of $25,000 dollars and possible jail time of 3-5 years.
Meg Baker contributed to this report.
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