I report on the news and people in New Jersey with a focus on the roller-coaster cannabis story, profiles of unusual characters, court rulings that have an impact on people’s lives and vanishing open spaces in the Garden State.

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Progressives shake things up a bit inside Norcross-led Democratic party in South Jersey

The progressives won 16 seats on the entrenched Camden County Democratic Committee and immediately challenged the current chairman, Jim Beach, with their own nominee, Susan Druckenbrod. It was a small step but launched a 10-year-or-longer plan to change the party from the inside.

He led a lavish life. But this New Jersey GOP heavyweight and cranberry king died a pauper.

DeMarco died penniless after squandering millions on an extravagant lifestyle and waging a legal battle with his brother over the family fortune. In recent years, he revealed he was gay and switched political parties.

South Jersey man sentenced to 17 years after killing acquaintance with a bow and arrow

Timothy Canfield received 17 years in prison after a Camden County jury convicted him of manslaughter in the bow-and-arrow death of Kereti Paulsen in Canfield's Berlin Borough, N.J. backyard.

Camden County Democratic machine trounces progressive challengers in state and local races

In light voter turnout across Camden County, Democratic candidates for state and local offices easily defeated progressive challengers in Tuesday's primary. But in Collingswood, 16 progressive delegates won seats on the County Democratic Committee. The progressives backed about 100 candidates.

Accused mastermind of $400K GoFundMe scam with Johnny Bobbitt pleads not guilty

Mark D'Amico was arraigned on conspiracy and theft charges in the $400K GoFundMe scam involving a homeless veteran and a fake Good Samaritan story. His co-defendants, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. have pleaded guilty in federal and state court and have agreed to testify against him at trial.

Is Ocean City, N.J., really ‘America’s Happiest Seaside Town’?

“Well, it’s pretty great here. It’s relaxing, a great place to go and just be you and not worry about the problems of the world.”

New Jersey’s legal weed bill is dead. Lawmakers will put the question on the ballot.

New Jersey's year-old legal weed bill was scrapped because legislative leaders said they were short a few votes. Instead, Sen. Steve Sweeney announced the question of whether to legalize recreational marijuana will go to voters. Bill sponsor Sen. Nick Scutari said that will likely be in 2020.

J. Garfield DeMarco, former Burlington County GOP leader and cranberry magnate, dead at 80

Garfield DeMarco, a longtime former GOP boss in Burlington County, N.J., who later sold 9,000 acres of his family cranberry farm in the Pinelands to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, died at age 80. He later switched his party affiliation to Independent and married his longtime boyfriend.

As legal weed stalls in New Jersey, voters may get a say at the polls

A plan to legalize marijuana in New Jersey is in trouble and some lawmakers are calling for a referendum to let voters decide whether adult-use recreational marijuana should be legalized. But that likely wouldn't be held until 2020.

GoFundMe scam defendant Mark D’Amico indicted on conspiracy charges in Burlington County

Mark D'Amico faces conspiracy charges in a $402,000 GoFundMe scam the prosecutors say defrauded donors with a fictitious story about how he and his ex-girlfriend wanted to repay the kindness of homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr. who they said helped her when she ran out of gas in Philadelphia.