The elite Arcview investor group held a New Jersey cannabis legalization panel on its effects on social justice and business.
Arcview Group Vice President Louis Han noted despite COVID, legalization has made great strides since cannabis was deemed an essential industry, the referendums passed comfortably, and the MORE Act passed the House. Also, Weedmaps is set to go public, and Jay Z is getting into the market.
“We can celebrate some social justice wins,” Han said, noting long-time prisoner cannabis prisoners were released.
Cannabis Regulatory Commission Remarks
Incoming Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) Chair Dianna Houenou noted that there should be a path for social equity in New Jersey’s legalization during the Arcview panel.
“People affected by our inequitable laws have to be included here,” she said, noting there should be access to jobs and operating a licensed business in this new marketplace.
Houenou said the consequences of an arrest affect a family and whole communities.
“Regulations are going to cover a wide range of topics,” she said, noting security, aping, looking at the testing protocols, and establishing a minimum standard for labeling.
Houenou noted there would be a public comment period on the regulations.
New Jersey Cannabis Legalization Regulatory Issues
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” she said, adding she wants to “keep equity in the conversation.”
“It’s been an ongoing fight,” ACLU NJ Policy Director Sarah Fajardo said.
She noted a lot of social justice provisions would be achieved in the legalization, including clearing records.
Fajardo noted there would be a social equity excise fee to fund social programs after immense public engagement and outcry.
However, they are still looking for additional criminal relief.
Dr. David Nathan noted he is a leader originally of the NJ United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR) coalition (where I represent the Latino Action Network, full disclosure), which Houenou initially headed.
“Patient access is going to improve,” Nathan said. He said he has faith Houenou and Jeff Brown will do well on medical cannabis, which many believe is overpriced and inconsistent strains.
“Even if they’re getting for the adult dispensary, they might be taking for chemo or back problems,” Nathan said.
Nathan noted that “limited home cultivation is an issue we need to revisit in future legislation.
“It’s not in the state’s interest to prevent people who can’t get the right strain at a dispensary,” Nathan said. “I’m hopeful that will come down the pike.”
Social Equity Issues
“I think social equity has become a buzzword in this industry,” said Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana (M4MM) General Counsel Jessica Gonzalez, noting it means different things.
She noted social equity has not been prominent in cannabis reform elsewhere.
“I’m hoping that won’t be the case in New Jersey,” Gonzalez said, noting many expect Houenou will seek to address that.
An Office of Cannabis Development has been designed to measure social equity efforts. Gonzalez noted the bill has changed for the better since the bill was first introduced a few days after the initial vote.
“That does not happen overnight,” Houenou said regarding social justice and repairing issues.
Arcview Panel on the Budding Cannabis Industry
“People are really looking for the Green Rush to come to New Jersey,” said Sargente.
She noted many small businesses have closed during COVID.
“I think the best way we’re going to do that is through micro licenses,” Sargente said.
She noted a range of jobs would be created, from executives to retail positions. However, the large-scale cultivation cap means there will be less likely to see opportunities, Sargente noted. Third-party technology likely will be popular as well. She noted lawyers, accountants, and consultants have enjoyed the Green Rush the most thus far in New Jersey.
“Opportunities are really endless,” said cannabis consultant Kelley Crosson. “Everyone is interested in cannabis.”
She said there could be a whole cannabis pier with education, retail, and a consumption lounge.
“It’s the perfect time to reimagine Atlantic City,” she said.
“There are so many other businesses that haven’t even been imagined yet,” Crosson said.
New Jersey Industry Growth Potential
“Back in the day, the people in the Gold Rush making the most money were selling Levi’s jeans and pickaxes,” former NJCBA President Scott Rudder said.
He said there would be a variety of jobs available, including engineers, technical people, and trimmers.
“There’s always going to be something for everyone,” Rudder said.
“It takes the suit and ties as well as the tie-dyes to make this work,” Han said regarding creating a just industry.
A cannabis consultant who is associated with Arcview, Ellie Siegel, said that the medical dispensaries would get the benefits of early advantage.
“A medical marijuana market should be cheaper than adult-use,” Siegel said, noting the tax on medical cannabis is time-limited.
Arcview VP of Consulting David Abernathy said it would be interesting to see how New Jersey cannabis develops after benefiting from others’ experiences. He also noted it has a small medical cannabis program versus other states when they legalized cannabis.
“We’ve seen the mistakes,” Siegel said, noting New Jersey can benefit from that.