July 14, 2024

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Weed’s about to be legal, but penalties for home grow are draconian

Good Tuesday morning!

We’re probably two days away from the Legislature voting to legalize marijuana.

But did you know that even after weed is legalized, a person caught growing even a relatively modest amount of it could face up to 20 years in prison, including a mandatory minimum sentence?

It’s well-known that regular people aren’t allow to grow under the weed legalization bill, but I haven’t heard anyone talk about just how draconian New Jersey’s laws against it are. If you’re caught growing 10 plants or more — or five pounds — you can be charged with the first degree crime of “maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance production facility.” The law treats growing weed the same as manufacturing crystal meth or PCP. That’s 10 to 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of at least a few years. The other laws on the books pertaining to growing weed are only slightly less draconian.

I know 10 plants or five pounds sounds like a lot. But keep in mind that live plants weigh a lot more than dried weed, and include a lot of parts that add weight but don’t get smoked. And of 10 plants, it’s likely that about half are going to be male, which don’t produce weed that can be smoked and need to be discarded. So we’re not talking about a major operation here. And even growing as little as one plant is still a third degree crime with serious consequences.

The only legislation that’s been considered to temper the penalties was a bill that would end mandatory minimum sentences for a host of non-violent drug and property crimes. But that bill’s stalled. The reason why is in the quote of the day.

Find my article about this on our homepage.

WHERE’S MURPHY? At University Hospital in Newark at 8 a.m. to watch the first vaccines administered to workers.

CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: 4,805 newly-reported cases for a total of 405,488. 25 more deaths for a total of 15,907 (and 1,868 probable deaths). 3,635 hospitalized, 704 in the ICU.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “My amendment is not about stopping this bill, it’s about making it stronger and more comprehensive by removing a tool that has too often been abused by reckless prosecutions. The Senate passed it and now it’s time for the Assembly to do the same.” — State Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-Hudson), who stalled a bill to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug and property offenses by inserting a last-minute amendment to also exempt official misconduct. His longtime girlfriend’s son is facing an official misconduct charge over an alleged no-show public job in North Bergen, where Sacco is mayor.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — State Sen. Joe Lagana, NJEA’s Michael Giglio

THE GLASS IS HALF FULL BUT DON’T SHARE IT WITH ANYONE— Persichilli: ‘We can begin to feel more optimistic’ as Covid vaccine arrives in New Jersey, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Monday that New Jerseyans should feel a sense of optimism, but not let their guard down, as tens of thousands of doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine arrive in the state. “Tomorrow, we will witness a moment in history when the first COVID-19 vaccine is administered in our state, we can begin to feel more optimistic that the end is coming,” Persichilli said during Gov. Phil Murphy’s regular briefing in Trenton. “But we still have a tough winter ahead of us. That is why it is so important that we continue to remain vigilant.” New Jersey will begin administering the vaccine on Tuesday to health care workers at University Hospital in Newark. New Jersey is receiving about 76,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week, Persichilli said. Of that, 20,000 doses will go to long-term care facilities, while the rest will go to hospitals. The vaccine must be given in two doses, 21 days apart.

DANIEL’S LAW — “N.J. law is meant to protect judges after horrific killing. Implementing it won’t be easy,” by NJ Advance Media’s Rebecca Panico: “Many county clerks across New Jersey are now tasked with compiling lists of those impacted by the new law. They will then have to scour records often posted on government websites that list deeds and redact them … That’s thousands of records, one clerk said. And the consequences for re-disclosing or making those records public could be steep: Any government agencies, individuals or businesses could be charged with a third or fourth degree crime. Those convicted could face fines, imprisonment or both. Now, the law is also impacting whole swaths of other public records, too. The City of Newark late last month restricted access to its public database of agendas, full ordinances and meeting minutes as it attempts to strike the resumes that were included in resolutions appointing municipal judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials … Melfi, the county clerk in Hunterdon, had a possible solution to compiling a whole list of judges and law enforcement officials: Have each impacted individual make the request, much like the New Jersey Address Confidentiality Program allows some domestic violence victims to use a post office box as a substitute for an address.”

HERE’S WHERE I PRETEND I’M UPSET BECAUSE I HAVE AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE AND HAD BIG PLANS — “Murphy uncorks bad news for New Year’s Eve partying. N.J.’s indoor bar, restaurant curfew unlikely to change,” by NJ Advance Media’s Matt Arco: “state’s curfew on indoor bars and restaurants meant to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus in time for New Year’s Eve. Food and alcohol sales are prohibited indoors after 10 p.m. … ‘I don’t want to burst peoples’ bubbles,” Murphy said. ‘I don’t see it. And I know that does not make a lot of people happy.’ Outdoor dining to celebrate the New Year remains an option.”

FROM 7-5 TO 11-1 — The blurry campaign focus of Steinhardt 2021,” by InsiderNJ’s Fred Snowflack: “Doug Steinhardt leaves no doubt: ‘I support President Trump. I always have.’ This was in the kickoff video for the 2021 gubernatorial campaign Steinhardt just launched. Steinhardt is a loyal Republican. In fact, he’s more than that; he chairs the state Republican Committee. At the same time, why can’t loyal Republicans realize and acknowledge the harm Trump has done to the Republican brand in New Jersey? The data is clear.”

BEAR HUNT — “Activists appeal NJ DEP decision to reject bear hunt challenge,” by The New Jersey Herald’s Bruce A. Scruton: “A group of animal rights activists — noted for their opposition to the state’s black bear hunt — has filed an appeal over the state Department of Environmental Protection’s rejection of their earlier effort to stop to the on-going black bear hunt. The DEP said the challenge was filed with the wrong group and should be refiled with the group that set the rules for the hunt: the Fish and Game Council. But Doris Lin, the attorney who is representing the activists, who include former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli and current state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, said it is the policy, not the hunting season, which they are asking the state to change. Lin said the activists are challenging the facts on which the policy was based.”

NOW’S THE TIME TO GET HORIZON TO PONY UP FOR ONE OF YOUR PET CAUSES — “Horizon offers N.J. $1.25B in cash for fewer regulations and a tax cut. Two key state panels just voted yes,” by NJ Advance Media’s Susan K. Livio: “Two state committees Monday approved a bill that would permit a sweeping and controversial corporate restructuring of New Jersey’s largest health insurance provider, which would net the state budget as much as $1.25 billion over the next quarter-century, in exchange for less government oversight and fewer taxes. Legislation allowing Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey — a not-for-profit that was once the state’s insurer of ‘last resort’ — to apply to state regulators for permission to function more like a for-profit company is moving fast. Introduced Dec. 10, the bill cleared the Assembly Insurance and Financial Institutions and the Senate Commerce Committee Monday, and will be back before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Tuesday.”

THE 36 MILLION DOLLAR MAN — Hugin says he’s running for GOP state chair, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Bob Hugin, a wealthy former pharmaceutical executive and former U.S. Senate candidate, is running to lead the New Jersey Republican State Committee. Hugin confirmed to POLITICO that he‘s thrown his “hat in the ring” ahead of Tuesday’s vote to replace the current state chair, Doug Steinhardt, who’s resigning to run for governor. Hugin, 66, who in 2018 spent $36 million of his own money in an unsuccessful effort to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, said he would be “an independent person committed to helping build the Republican Party on a long-term basis — not just the interim caretaker.”

—“1 in 500 New Jerseyans have died from COVID-19 since pandemic began, data shows

Key committee advances marijuana legalization measure to Senate floor

—“Her disabled son died alone in a group home closet. Now N.J. may require group homes to install cameras

—“Gov. Murphy, where are all the COVID-19 tests? | Opinion

Port Authority sees vehicular traffic recover faster than PATH, airport volumes

—“Nearly half of N.J.’s MVC agencies closed because workers have COVID-19

—“Official misconduct amendment still has mandatory minimums bill in limbo

—“MVC vehicle centers now appointment-only because of pandemic

—“‘We’re not knuckleheads’ – Restaurants deny breaking COVID rules

—“Krychiw challenging Cryan in LD20 Democratic primary

HE RELISHES THE FIGHT — “He once sold hot dogs in Bradley Beach. Now he fights Trump, Giuliani in court over votes,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Jerry Carino: “He grew up selling hot dogs on the boardwalk in Bradley Beach. He also picked blueberries and caddied for some cash. Later, he put himself through college by driving an ice cream truck. In August 1969, sensing opportunity, Mark Aronchick drove that truck to Woodstock. ‘We sold out of ice cream,’ he recalled of the famous concert in upstate New York, ‘and then the truck became a sanctuary during the rain.’ During those formative years in working-class Bradley Beach and diverse Asbury Park High School, Aronchick learned to be quick on his feet with folks of all stripes — tourists, golfers, hippies, Holocaust survivors, Cuban refugees. That trait served him well last month, when Rudy Giuliani walked into a federal courtroom and accused Pennsylvania’s election workers of stealing the presidency from Donald Trump. As a lead attorney representing those workers, Aronchick won an emphatic ruling from the judge. His pointed defense of democracy went viral and smoothed the way for today’s expected Electoral College vote for Joe Biden.”

WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE VAN GOOSE IS GOOD FOR THE VAN GANDER — “Atlantic County Democratic chair calls for officials to not seat Van Drew after his attempts to overturn presidential election,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s Molly Bilinski: “The Atlantic County Democratic chairman on Monday called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to not seat U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, citing his efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election. ‘Trying to overturn the results of the presidential election because one’s candidate lost has significantly harmed our democracy,’ Michael Suleiman said in a prepared statement. ‘Peaceful transfer of power has been a cornerstone of our republic for 240 years.’ … ‘Never before have elected officials so brazenly attempted to subvert our free and fair elections,’ Suleiman said in the statement. ‘Even the U.S. Supreme Court recognized this as nothing more than a partisan attempt to override the will of the people. Congressman Van Drew has lost all credibility to represent us in Washington and should not be seated.’”

Carpenito to resign as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey on Jan. 5

—“‘We just want to see our son’: Refugees hope for family reunification after Biden takes office

New Jersey, Pennsylvania governors make last-ditch plea for state aid in stimulus

TURNS OUT ‘CLERKS III’ REALLY SUCKS — “New city clerk in Trenton spars with colleagues, calls cops on reporter,” by NJ Advance Media’s Kevin Shea: “Matthew Conlon’s four months as Trenton’s city clerk has been contentious. And that’s the only thing city officials, including Conlon, agree upon. ‘It’s been a rough 90 days,’ Conlon said. Since being hired in early August, Conlon has threatened to sue a councilman, filed a police report against a news reporter, called the FBI to report allegations that council meetings were wiretapped, and acknowledged his whistleblower actions led to the firing of the city’s law director – which the mayor tried to stop, but a judge allowed to proceed. This has caused entrenched city employees, some in the law department, and led by At-Large Councilman Jerrel Blakeley, into a conspiracy that seeks his ouster, Conlon says. ‘I am getting slapped around here,’ Conlon told NJ Advance Media. His critics say Conlon is far from any kind of victim, but the agitator. ‘He needs to stay in his lane downstairs,’ Mayor Reed Gusciora said of Conlon, referring to the clerk’s office, which is on the lower level of City Hall.”

THE SACK OF GARBAGE — “Hackensack downtown development is ’21st-century redlining,’ critics say,” by The Record’s Isaish McCall: “It happened in Hoboken. It happened in Jersey City. Now a group of mostly Black residents say it’s happening in Hackensack. As downtown developments begin opening, the Hackensack Work Group says the recent affordable housing settlement between the city and Fair Share Housing Center is pushing aside working-class, mainly minority communities, and the process amounts to ‘21st-century redlining.’ Fair Share Housing is the gold standard for affordable housing settlements in New Jersey. Under the city’s settlement, developers must set aside a minimum of 10% new units for affordable housing in developments that would be built in more than a hundred acres of new ‘inclusionary zones.’ But resident Randy Glover says it’s not all it appears. ‘The Fair Share Housing agreement is full of smoke; it’s garbage,’ he said.”

0.00016 MASTROS — “Fulop: Jersey City will write $1,500 checks to renters in need,” by The Jersey Journal’s Joshua Rosario: “Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced Monday in his State of the City address — the seventh of his tenure — that the city will distribute $1,500 checks to renters facing economic hardship because of COVID-19 … City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said the city’s family relief program will begin in January.”

—“Atlantic City casino revenue down nearly 10% in November

—“Toms River is facing a federal lawsuit on religious buildings. How can they stop it?

—“‘This is my home:’ Dumont superintendent stepping down after 30 years

QUICKCHEK TO CHANGE NAME TO SLOWCHEK — “QuickChek sold to Arkansas company; NJ family business traces roots to 1888,” by The Asbury Park Press’ David P. Willis: “An Arkansas convenience store company has snapped up QuickChek, the New Jersey-based retailer started more than 50 years ago, for $645 million, both companies announced on Monday. In buying Readington-based QuickChek, Murphy USA, which has nearly 1,500 locations located primarily in the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest, moves into the New York metropolitan area.”

THIS CALLS FOR A NEW ‘SNOW DAY’ TO ANNUALLY HONOR THE CANDIAN RAPPER FROM THE EARLY 1990S BY CLOSING SCHOOLS FOR A DAY — “Are snow days a thing of the past thanks to virtual learning? Here’s what NJ districts say,” by The Record’s Matt Fagan and David M. Zimmer: “Winter 2020 promises another season of discontent for students. For many districts across North Jersey and beyond, snow days, a perennial source of serendipitous joy, may join the year’s long list of upended traditions … For a number of North Jersey school districts, the decision on whether to close schools will remain moot for most of this winter. Districts such as Passaic Valley Regional, Clifton and Passaic are remote until the end of January. Future years are less clear. Could snow days be over?”

—“Traffic deaths in N.J. are up this year, despite fewer cars on the road. Bad behavior is to blame