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  • Christopher Smith, Editor-in-Chief

New Jersey Constitution Outed as Racist

This article was presented on the State of Cannabis News Hour on Clubhouse on Friday, August 6, 2021. The SOC News Hour is available on Clubhouse each weekday from 9am to 10am, Pacific Time.

"Good morning Susan, good morning everyone. My headline today is from Bruce Barcott at Leafly:

I have to warn you, the following story includes Critical Race Theory. For example…


Racism is so deeply embedded in the history of cannabis in America that it’s hard to know where to start. A simple place is with the words that have been selected to disguise it with a fake name, then demonize it with fake news, and then murder it with a fake tax scheme, and then to launch a fake “war” based on a fake Schedule of Controlled Substances.

Weaponized words like “uncontrollably violent”, “incurably insane” and the worst: “marihuana.” Hold that thought…

The fake War on Drugs has been effective at only one thing: incarcerating hundreds of thousands of black and brown Americans.

A snapshot of this deeply embedded racism can be found in New Jersey, the state that’s like a scoop gelato in Hoboken: small, dense, and mostly vanilla. It’s #47 in size, but #11 in population. As for the vanilla: it’s 68% white, and only 13% African American.

Yet as recently as 2018, black people in New Jersey were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than whites. In Hunterdon County near the Pennsylvania border, the disparity in arrests is 14 times.


Now, the racism that’s flowed from the US government DOWN to the cannabis industry has migrated back UP to the New Jersey State Constitution.

Visit the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s website. On the FAQ page is a super-simple question: “What’s the difference between “cannabis” and “marijuana”?

Everyone in this room knows the answer, but the Commission is forced to state the following:

“…The terms “cannabis” and “marijuana” have traditionally been used interchangeably. However, pursuant to the November 2020 election, Article IV, section VII, paragraph 12 of the New Jersey State Constitution creates a legal distinction between “cannabis” and “marijuana.” In short, “cannabis” refers to the regulated form of the plant (what will be grown, bought, and sold in licensed stores), whereas “marijuana” refers to the unregulated form of the plant (what is grown, bought, and sold in the underground market).


Did you catch that switcheroo, that FAKE DISTINCTION? Don’t think for a second that this is an accident or a typo.

“Most of the legal cannabis sold in New Jersey (when those stores open later this year) is likely to be sold by white-owned companies. A disparate proportion of the people arrested for selling illegal marijuana will likely be people of color.”

In other words… New Jersey … state officials are breathing new life into one of the oldest sources of racial bias embedded in the drug war: The idea that cannabis sold by white people is good, but marijuana sold by people of color is bad.” (bold text added)

Words matter. We have to fight for every single one in this industry.

Once the New Jersey industry is up on its feet, we hope to see immediate bold action by the Commission to change the racist language in the New Jersey State Constitution.

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