The NJBIA cannabis panel on the prospective adult-use cannabis industry was held today with the leading prohibitionist speaking first.
Leading prohibitionist Kevin Sabet was given time to speak before the panel. He acknowledged his efforts are funded by the former drunkard and pill popper Patrick Kennedy whose wife is running for Congress in NJ-2.
Sabet has been successful in his mission to stoping an end to arrests and oppression for natural medicine and denial of the industry and the tax revenue that would bring.
Sabet said it would be bad to legalize. Despite that, he claimed to be dedicated to science” and claimed non-partisan and not about reefer madness,” though he pushes it more effectively than others. Everything he says makes cannabis sound terrible.
His group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is not involved in fighting legalization for various reasons. It is likely they have read the writing on the wall or cannot find money to back their cause.
Sabet had said cannabis is now stronger as if it had morphed into cocaine and killed people. Sabet claimed cannabis is bad for treating PTSD.
He discussed the commercialization of the industry as a left-wing radical (no offense to left-wing radicals). Sabet said Big Pharma, tobacco, and alcohol want to enter the cannabis industry. Many in favor of legalization want to stop them or allow a craft section akin to the wine industry to thrive.
He also claimed to be against arrests based on cannabis. Sabet also claimed to be in favor of social justice though he has done nothing to advance social justice.
“Will there be nicer pot shops in Princeton?” Sabet asked. He noted many more liquor stores are in the inner city than towns like Princeton.
If there are no dispensaries in Princeton, it results from a failure of vision and ambition.
He also does not seem to understand that cannabis can be legalized to create a just industry with the proper implementation.
NJBIA Cannabis Panel
The NJBIA cannabis panel did not start until Sabet ranted for about 25 minutes.
While not directly addressed, Mouzon said Sabet has a “sky is falling” attitude towards cannabis legalization.
Fruqan Mouzon, the litigation & government affairs attorney for McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP, led the panel. He previously worked for the State Senate Democratic Majority Office. The panel included Ruth Rauls of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, Hugh O’Beirne, Director of the Cannabis Advisory Group, and Evan Kolakowski, Director of Regulatory and QA for TerrAscend NJ.
Those seeking insights on the industry’s benefits and opportunities on the NJBIA cannabis panel would have been very disappointed.
Mouzon said access to children, the safety of roads, and gateway drug, which Sabet did not bring up. O’Beirne cited a counter study to Sabet’s condoned by federal agencies that youth usage is down.
Mouzon acknowledged gummies are sweet, which is alluring to children. Kolakowski said products are very strictly regulated by the state regarding what is and is not allowed. More education is needed as well, he said.
Labor protection of cannabis users is an issue, Mouzon said. Rauls said that was not really addressed initially. Now many states say cannot hurt registered patients. She explained said the Jake Honig medical cannabis law has some exceptions while workers are generally protected.
Rauls said no test like a breathalyzer exists to detect impairment. Like a COVID test, it would solve a lot of problems.
On the NJBIA cannabis panel, O’Beirne said millions of consumers will visit the state to consume. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) claims 11 percent of the population consume cannabis. Due to the per square mile of people within an hour’s drive of Princeton, New Jersey’s market would be one of the world’s largest. If other states legalize which, many expect, the NJ market share will diminish.
Mouzon said the $300 million in revenue from adult-use cannabis sounds too high because the underground market will not be diminished. O’Beirne said that was based on a 25 percent tax rate, and the referendum also has the state’s normal sales tax rate.
Rauls said it is hard to say what the tax rate is. Mouzon explained the ideal to both get the industry to thrive and diminish the underground market is exceedingly difficult to balance.
Rauls acknowledged the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which is supposed to regulate the industry, is held up in court. The same suit is holding up the decision on 24 licenses for medical cannabis.
Creating a Just Industry
Mouzon lamented no new medical cannabis licenses have been issued since 2018.
“There’s certainly room in our program for more competition,” O’Beirne said. He said there needs to be more supply, accessibility, and variety in cannabis items.
“We’re going to need those businesses,” O’Beirne said regarding those hoping for a medical license if the referendum passes. They will be needed to help meet the supply.
O’Beirne said there is a fear patients will suffer unless a lot more cannabis can be produced.
“There is a great deal of opportunity to make money in this industry,” O’Beirne said.
O’Beirne acknowledged there had been a great deal of suffering due to cannabis prohibition. He added the industry and state have an obligation to rectify that.
Mouzon asked if that’s happening elsewhere. O’Beirne said it’s getting better but not perfect, citing Illinois. Oakland is also a good model on the local level.