I write to implore you all to please adjust how you view and approach this Cannabis debate. Please invest in a proper and well-healed medical cannabis infrastructure now. Couple adult use with dedicated reinvestment in medical research and development and decouple the legislation while you work the more difficult details in regard to legal adult use.
The revenue from this industry will assuredly come regardless, but let us consider for a moment where we might be more strategic in how we pursue this opportunity.
The pursuit of Cannabis legislation haven’t led us any closer. Why is that?
Some of the questionable aspects of the bill that I’m sure the fence-sitters withholding their vote are contemplating include but assuredly are not limited to;
- Process – our colleagues need to have open discussion on these items, not power brokering. The issue is too important and the opportunities too great.
- Expungements - Is 5 lbs a low-end crime? Have we done enough to ensure the playing field can be equalized? The answer to both these question is NO.
- Public consumption - Should we be proposing smoking lounges amidst the DUI uncertainties that some of our representatives and their constituents believe? Probably not, although public housing restrictions on consumption are understood, dialogue based on fact need to be openly vetted.
- Taxation - Is a state tax deal that keeps a low local tax (where implications matters most) wise? We can do better in this regard.
- Medical sales taxation - Phased this out over 5 years is certainly one way of making the medication more affordable. However, cannabis is not a normal commodity, it requires strict testing and cultivation protocol that requires additional state expenditure. Consider reducing the tax ONLY as costs diminish due to the how the state may be able to reduce its need to provide services. Ie.. lab testing, medical board expenses, etc.
- Accessibility - The buffering requirements remain negatively impactful on communities of color and access within those markets to the most appropriate locations. With some many conflicting land uses within our urban centers, municipalities should be able to differentiate between the “uses” medical vs rec; cultivation vs dispensing, etc… To this end, no one has considered consulting organization such as the American Planning Association NJ Chapter for much needed planning and zoning considerations.
- Affordable access - Amidst a medicine very difficult to grow well, why are we not allowing adults to grow their own? We are the Garden State! Let people cultivate 2-6 plants. Otherwise, folks will do it illegally but assuredly it will not affect the legal market.
- Cannabis Control Commission.
- Medical R&D - Let us not leave out this question, Where is the medical research and reinvestment and economic growth strategies?
Leadership has decided to hold necessary changes to update the existing medical legislation hostage for tax dollar generation. While money seems to always win out over the people, again the big question I am compelled to implore you consider is a critical one in my opinion;
Does New Jersey want to get this right or merely pass a bill and fumble down the same road of undedicated revenues being scattershot across line items in a budget without working toward the future of an industry?
A comprehensive strategy is required to get New Jersey, and what will be its cannabis industry, in a position to be a sustainable and far reaching economy that could reach the scale of big Pharma if done correctly. No other state has viewed it through a truly comprehensive lens.
Much as Michael Bloomberg initiated PlaNYC, New Jersey needs to engage in a meaningful dialogue about its future. For the medicinal cannabis industry, the conversation is one about infrastructure. A conversation such as this needs to include utilities, green energy, and research.
New Jersey requires a meaningful economic development conversation withour municipalities as actual partners while developing real economic opportunities far beyond a budget revenue line item.
A quality statewide strategy demands inclusivity beyond the insider game. Such a strategic process can bring the type of education and awareness that arises only when it includes a variety of stakeholders taking the message outward. Industry experts and advocates, the medical profession, social justice advocates, yes, but also the urban planning community, economic development, and infrastructure experts.
A trip to any local community that has implemented their state’s respective legislation intelligently reveals that the Economic development opportunities are evident. However, realizing New Jersey opportunity could be less dependent on local champions through your leadership.
A more broadened, open, and educated discussion is necessary. With so many posers out there in the Cannabis world, the preverbal net needs to be cast wider. Those of us on the ground have learned a thing or two - use us.
Please decouple the legislation and advance medical expansion and the backbone of the future of Cannabis of New Jersey NOW.
#transparencymatters #inclusivegovernance #forthepeople #bythepeople