On Two-Year Anniversary of Legal Cannabis Sales, Lawmakers Push for Home Cultivation – Sen. Vin Gopal introduced in January S1393/A846, which would authorize home cultivation of medical cannabis, and S1985/A3867, which would allow medical users to possess up to ten plants and recreational users to possess up to six. In the two years since commercial sales of marijuana were legalized in New Jersey, over one hundred dispensaries have opened, producing $2 billion in sales in the state as of February 2024. Only licensed cultivators may grow the plants; home cultivation remains a third-degree felony. Those opposed to the legalization of home cultivation cite concerns about the potential for growth in the informal market. At the same time, advocates for the change say home cultivation would make cannabis use more affordable for medical marijuana users. The bills await committee review.


Public Administration

Ruling to Block Planning Board from Approving Warehouse Empowers Developers – On March 28, the NJ Superior Court ruled to disqualify eight of the nine members of the Sparta Township Planning Board from considering an application to build 660,000 feet of warehouse structures in the town of Sparta. The members had joined a Facebook group which opposed the development; the judge decided that they could not rule impartially on the proposed plan. While planning board members are often disqualified for financial conflict of interest, it is rare to see disqualification of nearly all board members based on an opinion on land use. The ruling may empower developers in the fight against municipalities who do not wish to see warehouse development. 

State Appellate Court Rejects Challenge to Law Shielding Public Officials’ Addresses – On April 26, a NJ Appellate Court upheld the decision of a lower court to reject a challenge to the constitutionality of Daniel’s Law, legislation which shields the addresses of public officials for their safety. Journalist Charlie Kratovil requested an injunction to prohibit New Brunswick officials from penalizing him for publishing the home address of an official who served as director of the New Brunswick Police Department and Parking Authority while living in Cape May. The journalist’s request argues that the specific address of the public official is of public interest. However, the appellate judges found that protecting public officials from violent attacks and harassment is of compelling state interest. Kratovil’s legal representative, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, asserted this ruling would inhibit journalists’ ability to hold public officials accountable. 

Plans for Senior Tax Credit Consolidation Could Conflict with Corporate Transit Tax – In June 2023, Gov. Murphy signed legislation authorizing the creation of StayNJ, a property tax credit program designed to keep older NJ residents in their homes by reducing property taxes for seniors earning under $500,000 by up to 50%, capped at $6,500. The task force formed to consider the program’s implementation must produce its recommendations by May 30; among the recommendations currently under consideration is a plan to consolidate the StayNJ program with other property tax relief programs, ANCHOR and Senior Freeze. However, the program requires a state budget surplus of 12% in order to be implemented in 2026 as planned, which may produce conflict with the Governor’s spending priority of creating a corporate tax to fund transit improvements in the state. 



Bill Introduced to Codify Rights to Technology-Assisted Fertility Treatments – On April 15, lawmakers introduced to the Assembly A4191, which would codify the right to technology-assisted fertility treatments including in vitro fertilization (IVF). If passed, the legislation would add to the list of reproductive rights codified in 2022 in anticipation of the Dobbs decision, which ended the U.S. constitutional right to abortion. Abortion, contraception, sterilization, and other reproductive care are civil rights under NJ state law as P.L.1997, c.192. In March, the legislature passed a resolution which condemned an Alabama Supreme Court ruling undermining the right to IVF in the state and reaffirmed freedom of access and protection of reproductive health care services in NJ. 

Department of Health Considers Providing Low-Income Mothers with Grocery Delivery – The NJ Department of Health is seeking funding in the 2025 fiscal year budget to pay for a change to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, a federal program which assists low-income children and new mothers in purchasing groceries, infant formula, breastfeeding support, and other resources. The proposed change would add an online shopping and home delivery option for WIC recipients in the state in order to help mothers experiencing homelessness, lack of transit access, or recovery from a surgical delivery. The change would advance the state’s goal to improve maternal health outcomes for mothers of color. While the federal government would provide $700,000 to fund the online ordering option in the 2025 fiscal year, the state would devote $2.9 million to delivery services. NJ would be the first state to enact this policy; lawmakers have until July 1 to approve the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.