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Would New Jersey Consider A Pilot Program For Cannabis?

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Would New Jersey Consider A Pilot Program For Cannabis? A pot plant is pictured here

New Jersey is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for adult-use. There is opposition but a pilot program would help.

The state would join nine others, plus the District of Columbia, to allow recreational cannabis for its adult population. There is just one roadblock – the state legislature.

Legal cannabis is expected to bring in an estimated $300 million of revenue in the first year. But there are towns in New Jersey such as Wall, Old Bridge, Garfield, and others that are not receptive. Some have already banned cannabis from being sold or manufactured in their towns if and when it becomes legal. Other towns have decided to table, or postpone, their bills until after legislation is approved by the Governor.

A few weeks ago Senator Ron Rice (D-Essex) introduced a bill to decriminalize cannabis in New Jersey. This bill would allow possession of under 10 grams of marijuana, a fine for up to 50 grams of marijuana, and up to six months in jail for amounts over 50 grams of the product. Additionally, there are numerous other bills for industrial hemp, medical marijuana, and adult-use of legal cannabis. They are all at various stages of the legislative process in New Jersey.

Will Cannabis Become Legal In New Jersey With This Resistance?

At an NJ Small & Minority Owned Business Symposium on Preparing For The Cannabis Industry, New Jersey Cannabusiness Association President Scott Rudder said, “This is going to be a lot harder than people thought. I am still trying to convince people that this is not an opioid. This is not a gateway drug. We are still having very basic conversations.”

One thing that is known is that cities like Jersey City, Asbury Park, Atlantic City, and others are open and welcome to having a cannabis market in their cities and towns.

According to Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn, in an article by NJ.com “We don’t want Asbury overrun with dispensaries, but we don’t have an issue if it’s regulated and taxed. We’re known for having a variety of businesses. We want more businesses paying us taxes.”

The Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam was part of a recent entourage of policymakers, advocates, and industry leaders to visit Las Vegas and observe the recently legalized cannabis market.

“I don’t have the appetite to just be a pusher of the product. I don’t want people to think that they should just come here, buy it, and leave,” Gilliam told WHYY, adding he wants Atlantic City to be “a destination, where folks can come here and enjoy it in a controlled area.”

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted about cannabis and his excitement towards the future with the legal industry.

On Monday, there was a hearing by the state assembly that went on for several hours. Many pro-legalization voices shared their stories and information, seemingly outnumbering the prohibitionists. The New Jersey State Assembly will hold 3 additional hearings on legal cannabis in New Jersey.

Would New Jersey Consider A Cannabis Pilot Program?

What if New Jersey decriminalized possession in the entire state of New Jersey, beginning immediately? Next, the state could work with five cities, at minimum, such as Atlantic City, Jersey City, Asbury Park, and others such as Trenton, New Brunswick, or Princeton, for example. The state would continue its medical dispensary program at the current medical providers that are situated throughout the state and allow each of them the opportunity to expand production to service a legal market. The pilot program could also allow home cultivation through a licensure program.

The pilot program could operate for 2-3 years. Municipal governments around the state could take notice and decide whether they want to join in or not. Additional towns could begin to opt-in as they hear from residents and observe the program.

What do you think? 

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