Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
Pubdate: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Copyright: 2018 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc
Author: Sam Wood


Should New Jersey residents be able to grow their own marijuana at

A top-ranking Garden State assemblyman thinks so.

Reed Gusciora (D., Mercer) is the deputy majority leader in the
Assembly and a prosecutor in Lawrence Township. He's also running to
be mayor of New Jersey's capital city.

Gusciora believes residents should be allowed to cultivate up to six
cannabis plants indoors for their personal use if recreational
marijuana becomes legal in the state.

"Looking at the marijuana laws in place in California, Oregon,
Washington and the like, I thought that homegrown should be an
essential element of the New Jersey law, too," Gusciora said.

The state's recently installed governor, Phil Murphy, made full
legalization of marijuana a signature issue of his campaign. Bills are
pending in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Any marijuana grown for personal consumption would have to be tended
"indoors, in controlled environments." That's because many of his
colleagues fear the worst.

"They have visions of kids jumping over fences to steal Mrs. Smith's
marijuana plants," he said.

Gusciora's language has been amended to the legislation pending in the
lower house. He said the Assembly language would have to be "melded"
with the Senate bill, sponsored by Nicolas Scutari (D., Union), for
the homegrown provision to become law.

Legalized recreational marijuana is far from certain. According to a
Fairleigh Dickinson poll released Feb. 1, only 42 percent of New
Jersey voters approve of full legalization. Some towns already plan to
ban legal marijuana sales before the law can be put to a vote.

Gusciora, one of the original sponsors of the state's medical
marijuana legislation, said he became an advocate for legal weed after
one of his constituents was diagnosed with brain cancer. The man's
parents had a difficult time finding cannabis for their son to battle
nausea brought on by chemotherapy.

As a prosecutor, Gusciora said marijuana arrests result in costly
legal bills for both the consumers and law enforcement. His office
regularly handles "two or three cases every court session," he said.
They're not cases he enjoys prosecuting.

"Ninety percent of the arrests on the municipal level are about a
joint found in an ashtray," he said. "The person faces up to six
months in jail, a $1,000 fine, a six-month loss of their driver's
license and $800 in other fees that the state assesses."

Then there's the long line of police officers, prosecutors, defense
attorneys and lab technicians that are required to prosecute each case.

"It's an expensive proposition for everyone," he said.
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