The 2020 Virtual NJ Cannabis Marketplace Expo sponsored by the NJCBA and Stockton University featured a panel on social justice and many New Jersey cannabis experts.
Social Justice Featured
A panel on social justice in the cannabis marketplace was moderated by Todd Scattini of Harvest 360. It featured the NJ Cannabis Business Association (NJCBA)’s new president Ed DeVeaux, Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Union), Illinois Representative La Shawn Ford, and David Serrano of Harvest 360.
Holley noted the need for social justice within the enabling legislation of the referendum bill.
“Everyone agrees the arrests should stop,” he exclaimed.
The decriminalization bill is likely to go forward next week, with the magic mushroom poison pill bill passing the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week. With magic mushrooms removed, the New Jersey Senate will have to pass another decriminalization bill along with the enabling legislation next Thursday. December 17th.
“New Jersey has come a long way on social justice,” said Holley. “But we’re not there yet.”
“In the land of the free… we have twenty percent of the world’s prisoners, more than Russia more than China,” Holley noted. He lamented that expungements did not occur before the advent of medical cannabis.
Holley said he has been focusing on cannabis reform since entering the legislature from being mayor of Roselle, NJ. He noted racist policing of cannabis against Blacks and Hispanics.
Scattini noted cannabis was removed from the United Nations’ list of dangerous drugs recently. All the panelists were happy at the prospect of the federal government considering legalization legislation.
Holley congratulated DeVeaux for assuming the leadership of NJCBA. Ford noted DeVeaux has been helpful in Illinois implementation.
Serrano said in Illinois they reduced barriers to entry by eliminating real estate and financial requirements in the application process. He explained how their software could help equity applicants.
The need for social justice within the cannabis marketplace was the focus of much of the discussion. DeVeaux noted that the conversations around cannabis social justice and commerce conversations been very separate far too often. However, they’re not mutually exclusive issues. It was said that the inclusion of a cannabis lounge in implementation is important for those who have issues smoking at home.
DeVeaux said the point-based scoring system the NJ Department of Health has been using is fundamentally flawed. He argued that the number of dispensaries should be allowed to grow organically. That would license caps would be eliminated.
“We don’t ask pizzeria owners to go through a point process,” he said, noting pharmacies don’t work that way either. “What we have essentially done by creating this point system is we have continued the pain in the comms we represent.”
DeVeaux advocated for the development of smaller licenses for retail and then processing companies versus vertical licenses.
“If I am capable of partnering with Assemblyman Holley, we put together enough money to rent a storefront… and we launch a dispensary. Then all the folks who got their licenses, we become an outlet for them,” he said.
“They need extra wrung in the ladder so they can come up,” DeVeaux said regarding social equity applicants.
DeVeaux noted the effectiveness of the activist group Sativa Cross broadcasting at the Statehouse in Trenton when the legislature is in session. However, they appreciated him as a lobbyist with a history of pushing legislation among insiders.
“Ed, we’re glad the suits are here,” DeVeaux said they told him. “We’ve gone from revolution to evolution.”
Scattini said cannabis is likely to be further legalized in the future.
Jackie Cornell and Dr. Monica Taing held a panel on medical cannabis’ benefits at the conference.
Cornell was an NJ Deputy Commissioner of Health for the first year of Murphy’s administration before joining 1906. After working for a dispensary in New Jersey, Tang has worked with different companies, including 4Front Ventures.
They acknowledged that “Brownie” Mary Rathbone is the Godmother of brownie edibles. Rathbone helped AIDS patients obtain edibles to cope at the height of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco.
“We would be here without out advocates and activists like Brownie Mary,” Taing said.
Cornell noted legalization movement that launched the cannabis marketplace has its roots in the queer and HIV communities.
She said that edibles are good for sensitive patients who might not be comfortable with smoking but want cannabis for health benefits.
New Medical Cannabis Products
Cornell said 1906 specializes in low-dose, fast-acting products. She said these are ideal for the increasing number of low-level micro-dosing patients.
“Everyone’s craving something to make the day easier,” Cornell said.
Her company’s tablets and capsules, which resemble traditional medicine and supplements, would be the most likely to be reimbursed as medicine, she argued, versus smokable cannabis should any medical cannabis be treated as medicine by health insurance.
They noted edibles take between 15 to 90 minutes to take time. Taing said the manner of infusion affects consumption ingestion. There is a delayed onset of action. How fast an edible takes effect depends on when it was taken, a persona’s empty stomach, and a product’s potency. It could last four to six hours because they’re fat-soluble.
“Every person is different,” Taing said, noting that when an edible will take effect depends on age, gender, and race.
However, “treatment naïve patients” aren’t aware of this.
The adage, “start low, go slow,” was given as advice to any newbies listening.
“Less is more with THC,” Taing noted. Too much can lead to anxiety and paranoia.
“Calling it recreational is a fallacy,” Cornell said since many adult-use consumers need seeking to cope with anxiety or pain often.
“These are basically patients without a card,” Cornell said.
NJDOH Assistant Commissioner Jeff Brown said at a conference he did not like the term nor agree with that logic earlier this year.
They need to be educated and treated comparable to patients, Cornell said.
Experts Discuss NJ Cannabis Marketplace
Other panels featured included Marianne Bays, Vice President of the NJCBA, and Dr. David Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DRFCR), a New Jersey-based doctor cannabis lobbying group.
Nathan talked about the virtues of keeping adult-use cannabis limited to adults only.
He said confidently that New Jersey will have the lowest taxed adult-use cannabis marketplace in the country.
Other panels featured discussions on hemp and insurance issues.