New Jersey is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for adult-use. The state would join nine others, plus the District of Columbia, to allow recreational cannabis for its adult population. Additionally, 29 states have a medical marijuana program which range in size and allowable conditions. There is just one roadblock – the state legislature.
While legal cannabis is expected to bring in an estimated $300 million of revenue in the first year, there are plenty of towns in New Jersey such as Wall, Old Bridge, Garfield, and others that are not receptive and 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 for 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 all at various stages of the legislative process in New Jersey.
Will Cannabis Become Legal In New Jersey With All Of 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.”
“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.
I’m a supporter of legalization of marijuana + in next few weeks our planning dept is going to clean up JC zoning laws so that we can get ahead of where we’ll allow/not allow dispensaries, grow facilities etc. we want our zoning to be clear w/community input + to avoid lawsuits
— Steven Fulop (@StevenFulop) January 10, 2018
On Monday, there was a hearing by the state assembly that went on for several hours with many pro-legalization voices sharing 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 while 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 immediately as they begin to hear from residents and observe the program in those towns that already are open and welcome to it.
What do you think?