Several New Jersey politicians are going on an upcoming cannabis fact-finding mission to Las Vegas where adult-use cannabis is legal, including the Mayor of Atlantic City.
Some of the attendees on the trip will include Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Passaic), Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), and Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth).
Atlantic City on Board
One person who wants to move forward with legal cannabis is Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam. While awaiting his inauguration he proposed that cannabis be piloted in Atlantic City for up to five years. He insisted this could help establish protocols and allow the state to prepare for widespread use.
Meanwhile, other towns such as Asbury Park, Jersey City, and Atlantic City have embraced the idea of legal cannabis in their communities.
Gilliam is attending a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, which recently legalized recreational cannabis along with a host of politicians, business people, and other lobbyists.
The idea of the casinos, boardwalk, and beachfront allowing some form of cannabis use is long overdue. Many cannabis users are already buying hash online so setting up legal brick and mortars shops for recreational cannabis would be a great option. However, limiting the practice to Atlantic City would only further allow the ‘big fish’ to lay a stake to claim in the cannabis industry.
Marijuana is going to be a huge business wherever it is legal, that is without question. Business leaders also attending the trip include Andrew Zaleski, CEO of Breakwater Treatment and Wellness medical marijuana dispensary in Cranbury; Paul Josephson, attorney for the NJ Cannabis Industry Association (NJCIA); Princeton psychiatrist and founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulations David Nathan; and Hugh O’Beirne and Dara Servis, NJCIA president and executive director, according to the trip’s itinerary.
“The key for me is to get more knowledge on how they rolled out the process and understand the pros and cons,” Gilliam said. “They have gaming like we do, so I want to figure out how those things coexist and figure out to make it work for Atlantic City.”
Scutari, the prime sponsor of one of the proposed legalization bills, who previously spearheaded trips to observe Colorado’s adult-use program, said he wishes more of his colleagues were going.
Is this done strategically to give southern, central, and northern New Jersey pilot areas?
There is both excitement and uncertainty when it comes to legal cannabis. Governor Murphy is moving forward with plans to legalize cannabis. He also stuck to his promise and immediately signed an executive order expanding the medical marijuana program in New Jersey.
Although Cannabis use would be a long-overdue and welcome sight to cannabis enthusiasts, the limiting to AC would only continue to encourage the “big fish” investors”
Why Attend This Trip?
“It’s a fact-finding mission from my perspective and another opportunity for legislators to learn,” Scutari said. There are many benefits to legalizing cannabis. Besides the expected windfall revenue and thousands of jobs for New Jersey residents, there are also societal benefits from legal cannabis. There are cases of reduced opiate usage in states where cannabis is legal. Alcohol sales have also seen declining sales in states with legal medical cannabis. While one may argue this is trading one for the other, there is no debate the cannabis is far less dangerous.
In a recent poll by NBC News people thought alcohol, tobacco, and even sugar, are more dangerous than marijuana. In fact, only 9% felt cannabis was dangerous.
It was also reported that children are less likely to use marijuana in legalized states.
Cannabis has gained serious momentum in New Jersey and is expected to be legalized in some form sooner than later.
A bill to legalize hemp production introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), was advanced last week. The bill establishes a licensing structure for hemp farmers in New Jersey. The bill permits farmers to produce, transport, and distribute hemp with a THC value of less than .03% throughout the state. Hemp is also often used to make CBD a non-psychoactive medicinal product that has many medicinal benefits. Additionally, hemp can be used to make building products, rope, health products, body ointments, and countless other products.
There are a host of bills proposed or anticipated by various New Jersey lawmakers, including Scutari, Gusciora, and Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carrol (R-Morris). Scutari’s bill appears to remain the one with the most traction, but it is also the most restrictive by far.
Heady NJ, along with many industry leaders, co-sponsors, and contributors, is working on a variety of educational initiatives and will share them as soon as possible.