TRENTON — A measure to allow Garden State residents to grow their own weed has been introduced by a Republican legislator, who has voted against recent efforts to lay the groundwork for recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen, has outlined legislation that would permit private possession of up to six marijuana plants, subject to the state moving forward with plans for legal, adult-use pot.

“The people of New Jersey made it clear in November that they want to lift the prohibition on cannabis,” Cardinale said in a written statement on Friday.

“Since then, the Legislature has spent three months fumbling around with what should have been a simple task, and complicated the legalization effort with countless fees, licensing and extra layers of bureaucracy," the 86-year-old veteran lawmaker continued.

"If an adult wants to use marijuana for personal use, they should be allowed to cultivate it at home. We’re boiling legalization down to its most basic level," Cardinale added.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Executive Director Amol Sinha told Forbes Magazine in December that some form of legal home grow is “absolutely crucial from a racial and economic justice perspective, as well as a health care perspective.”

Growing less than 10 marijuana plants at home remains a felony under current New Jersey law, punishable by a $25,000 fine or three to five years in prison.

Cultivation of more than 10 plants, but less than 50 could earn stiffer penalties under existing law, of a $150,000 fine and/or up to ten years in prison, as listed by the legalization public interest group, NORML.

New Jersey's marijuana legalization and decriminalization bills have remained unsigned by Gov. Phil Murphy, more than six weeks after first being passed.

A proposed bill was released from Assembly committee on Friday, which would set new penalties for underage use or possession of marijuana.

If passed, the measure would set civil fines at $50 to $100 for underage possession of small amounts of marijuana by people ages 18 to 20.

After the November referendum on legal, adult-use marijuana passed by a strong majority, Cardinale said his bill "accurately reflects the intention" of voters.

“This is what people voted for, not a complex web of special interests, political priorities, and expensive fees that will price legal pot out of the market for many residents. What will Murphy tax next? Growing carrots,” Cardinale said, in the same written statement.

Out of 36 U.S. states that have legalized medical and/or adult-use cannabis, at least 18 allow some form of at-home cannabis growing.

Of those, all but three of 15 states that have legalized adult-use cannabis allow personal cultivation, with varied limits on quantity, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

In Illinois, medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow up to five plants at once. Growing the same amount of marijuana at home for recreational use remains punishable in Illinois by a civil penalty of $200.

In Connecticut, legislation was introduced in January to allow qualifying medical cannabis patients to grow up to six plants for therapeutic use, as the state also considers its own potential legalization of adult-use marijuana.

With previous reporting by Michael Symons

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