Atlantic City is banking on cannabis to fix its poor economic situation, which has only been made worse by the COVID pandemic.
A report commissioned from the Atlantic City Restart and Recovery Working Group convened by Governor Phill Murphy has said cannabis revenues would be the best way to address their financial woes.
“The State should consider the opportunities that may be created by new initiatives, including the legalization of recreational use marijuana, as potential sources of political and financial support for the efforts to restart and recover Atlantic City,” the report said.
The Botanist dispensary is already open in AC and MPX/iAnthus’ “Be” will open eventually. In addition, the Hip Hemp Cafe, owned by former long-time cannabis prisoner and Mafia associate George Martorano is poised to get a license. In addition, Snoop Dogg and the CGC corporations he is associated with want in as well. In addition, cannabis conferences could bring a lot of money to the city Post-COVID.
“We are facing a recovery challenge unlike any Atlantic City and the state has faced. But every challenge also brings with it opportunities. The Working Group’s report has identified many of these opportunities, and we intend to move forward on a number of them as we emerge from the pandemic,” Murphy said.
“Atlantic City and Atlantic County have felt the economic impacts of the pandemic perhaps greater than any other region in the state. The thoughtful, viable recommendations outlined in the Working Group’s report will greatly assist us in turning the COVID-19 setback into a triumph,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver. She serves as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which deals with municipal issues.
Along with cannabis, the commission recommends they:
- Develop the “Blue Economy” by investing in renewable energy, coastal resiliency, fisheries, eco-tourism, gray water recycling, smart technology waste management, and marine-based drones;
- Coordinate economic development among the many government agencies trying to fix the city
- Rebuild the boardwalk to withstand severe storms
- Refresh the buildings and appearances along Pacific Avenue by demolishing deteriorated buildings, adding plants, improving lighting, rehabbing storefronts, and relocating service yards and dumpsters
- Achieve 100 percent Internet connectivity by using grants
- Reconvene the AC City Jobs Council to understand employer needs, create training programs, establish a jobs database, and hold job fairs
- Build an “online community collaboration database that lists all community services and citizen-led initiatives available.
- Expand the community policing initiative
- Continue repurposing of Atlantic Avenue currently underway
- Create more recreational programs for city youth and provide more sports fields/facilities.
- Establish a short-term/transitional housing solution for the homeless
- Create an early pregnancy outreach program
- Develop a remote care monitoring program for pregnant women
“Atlantic City has bounced back from adversity time and time again, and it will be no different with COVID-19,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr.
The Working Group said Atlantic City does indeed have assets that make it a great place to live and work;
- Live entertainment
- Free and Clean beaches
- Over 30 parks
- Cultural and historic attractions,
- Public transportation
- High walkability
- The arts
- Strong civic associations,
- Deeply-rooted neighborhoods
They did not list the casinos and hotels as assets.
Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City
COVID has especially hit AC, conceived as a place for gathering for business, fun, drinking, gambling, and shows. The problem with Atlantic City is that even in boom times, the bulk of the money lost in the casinos leaves the city. Their conference industry has likely been especially hit. The New Jersey Democrats always hold their conference in Atlantic City.
Due to its nature as a pleasure spot getaway, Atlantic City has received outsize attention relative to its population. For example, East Brunswick and Bayonne, NJ both have more people.
The money that can be made from cannabis is what will likely turn cannabis from being seen as the “Whore Marijuana” by many City Elders into the proper and respectable “Lady Cannabis.” Unfortunately, towns that don’t desperately need money are still reluctant to embrace the Lady, even if their residents gave cannabis an overwhelming political mandate to embrace it.