Dear Senator Scutari,
First, I would like to congratulate you on becoming Senate President-elect. You have been a champion of medical marijuana from the beginning and I’m sure this will continue. You have been a very valuable ally to our state’s medical patients.
But I would like to discuss your answer to my question last Friday on the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association zoom meeting. I had asked if you would support Senate Bill S3420, sponsored by Senators Troy Singleton and Vin Gopal and Assemblyperson Verlina Reynolds-Jackson. This bill would allow medical patients to grow 4 mature cannabis plants, helping with the current problems of the highest medical cannabis costs in the nation and also help patients have consistent access to their needed cannabis strains.
The question was stated to you as a more general question about supporting home cultivation. You responded that you would not support it at this time because, based on what happened in Colorado, home cultivation would flood the New Jersey black/grey market and compete with and impede the success of the nascent New Jersey adult-use market.
Your understanding of what happened in Colorado is out of date. At the time you visited Colorado, households were allowed to grow nearly 100 plants. Since then, Colorado House Bill 1220 was passed and the number was reduced to 12 plants. The reported problems quickly diminished.
Colorado legalized cannabis for adults by voter initiative in 2012 and in early 2013 started allowing any adult to grow up to 99 plants per household. This is a larger number than any other state in the US.
According to a statement by Colorado’s Majority Leader Becker (https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/colorado-reduces-marijuana-growing-limits-on-residential-properties/article_77ab56eb-aaef-5181-bcf2-f18f998967b9.html ), this large number of plants made it difficult for police to distinguish legal grows from black market commercial grows, leading to many problems.
In the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice report, “Impacts of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado”, July 2021 ( https://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/ors/docs/reports/2021-SB13-283_Rpt.pdf), in the section “Diversions Out of State”, House Bill 1220able 27, page 56, intercepted diversions more than doubled between 2012 ( before the 99-plant grow law was implemented) and 2017. But after the restriction to 12 plants was passed in 2018, it quickly fell so that in 2019 it was below the levels of 2012.
This same pattern happed for other indications of diversion.
“In the state’s extensive 2018 report on marijuana’s impact five years after legalization, authors noted that organized crime filings with pot ties had almost tripled in five years, increasing to 119 in 2017 from 31 in 2012. But data from the upcoming 2021 report shows that number plummeted in 2018 and 2019, dropping back down to near-2012 levels.”(https://www.denverpost.com/2021/06/20/black-market-marijuana-colorado-chinese-crime-rings/#:~:text=Officials%20in%202019%20seized%2033%2C361,assets%2C%20per%20the%20state%20report.)
I think these reports show that your statement about home cultivation and diversion applies only to growing large number of plants by the general population and not to a small number of plants by medical marijuana patients.
I hope these facts will help you will reconsider your opposition to the home cultivation of a few plants by New Jersey medical patients.
Board Member of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, New Jersey