There is both excitement and uncertainty when it comes to legal cannabis. The excitement is even higher in an adult-friendly gaming town such as Atlantic City. One thing that is certain for New Jersey is that Governor Murphy is moving forward with plans to legalize cannabis. He stuck to his promise and laid stake in the ground when he 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”
One person who also wants to move forward with proposed 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, set up an adult-friendly environment, and allow the state to prepare for widespread use. “Reefer Madness” is blatant in some New Jersey towns. Meanwhile, other towns such as Asbury Park, Jersey City, and Atlantic City have all embraced the idea of legal cannabis in their communities.
Is this done strategically to give southern, central and northern New Jersey pilot areas?
Now the mayor is attending a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, a state that recently legalized recreational cannabis for adult-use. He is attending with a host of other politicians, business people, and other ‘influencers’ on New Jersey policy.
The idea of the casinos, boardwalk, and beachfront allowing some form of cannabis use is a long-overdue and welcome idea for cannabis enthusiasts. However, limiting the practice to Atlantic City would only further allow the ‘big fish’ to lay stake to claim in the cannabis industry.
Some of the attendees on the trip to Las Vegas include Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union; Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly D-Passaic; Assemblywoman Annette Quijano D-Union; and Sen. Declan Scanlon R-Monmouth organizers said.
Marijuana is going to be a huge business wherever it is legal, that is without question. Therefore it is no surprise there are also business leaders attending the trip including Andrew Zaleski, CEO of Breakwater Treatment and Wellness medical marijuana dispensary in Cranbury; Paul Josephson, attorney for Cannabis Industry Association; Princeton psychiatrist and founder of Doctors for Cannabis David Nathan; and Hugh O’Beirne and Dara Servis, the association’s 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, as reported in a recent article on nj.com. “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 recreational adult-use program, said he wishes more of his colleagues were going.
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 it was reported that people thought the alcohol, tobacco, and even sugar, are more dangerous than marijuana. In fact, only 9% felt cannabis was dangerous.
It is 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 and capacity, sooner than later.
Additionally, in the New Jersey legislature, a bill to legalize hemp production introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (Mercer-D), was advanced last week. This 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). Scutari’s bill appears to remain the one with the most traction, but it is also, by far, the most restrictive.
No matter what, one thing that is certain, there is excitement and fervor towards cannabis, but there is also a great deal of education that needs to be provided to the residents of New Jersey.
Heady NJ, along with many industry leaders, co-sponsors, and contributors, are working on a variety of educational initiatives and will share them as soon as possible.
Some information in this article was originally reported in this article by nj.com.