Mr Governor, Senate President, Assembly Speaker, Members of the New Jersey Legislature,
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;
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
Whether one likes it or not, Cannabis is here with promises of additional rounds beyond this current round of 6 new vertical licenses that the State of New Jersey will soon be issuing. A question worth asking is whether New Jersey’s municipalities are prepared or not.
As a professional land use planner I have studied the issue of legalization of cannabis for some time now. My colleagues in those states that are ahead of NJ in implementation of this exciting new industry have shared a great deal of experience over the last several years. As an avid traveler to hiking and skiing destinations, my pursuits bring me to states that have allowed me to personally research the issue of legalization of marijuana in real time. From strip malls with several dispensaries located in them, to well-designed facilities that are beautifully designed, the experience runs the gamut. Some towns were prepared, while others were not. A mere drive through any of those communities and one can easily tell the difference.
I believe Governor Murphy is working diligently to position New Jersey for success. For all our sake, my hope is that quality medicinal licensing continues to result in enhanced research and development of new remedies that succeed where western medicine has failed.
I personally want to see the next “big pharma” company be born here in New Jersey as a result of this effort. And its possible!
While it will remain to be seen how the legislature implements recreational adult use, one issue that has not been addressed in any great detail is local land use and zoning. Other than ensuring potential operators gain local support as a critical component of this round’s expansion of medicinal licensing application, the regulations have been quiet on the issue. This is where the rubber meets the road and local municipalities need assistance in understanding what's at stake.
New Jersey’s communities do not have to be the victims of the whims of Trenton and how it choses to expand access to this seemingly Holy Grail of natural remedies. While some feel it is merely an effort aimed at bolstering our tax coffers, which it may to some politicos, the truth is that this is a tremendous opportunity to deepen our knowledge base of a plant that has so many benefits to society. Expanding this knowledge by honoring the great medicinal opportunity before us, both in how licenses are expanded and how the communities can utilize zoning as a means toward supporting this cause must be part of the process. .
Investment in land use planning is critical. As our communities as very much in control of this industries ability to expand, we must address site selection strategically and with care in order to maximize the economic gains that will result.
Control or no control, that is our local leaders number one concern. Communities out west have 5 years of experience in both categories. Planning and Zoning can be utilized to regulate this use in ways that the legislation has not contemplated, like better defining Alternative Treatment Centers and their ability to split their license into the categories of dispensing versus cultivation, manufacturing and research. While attempting to be respectful of our constituencies viewpoints on the topic, the public interface of point of sale, juxtaposed against cultivation, manufacturing and research can yield very different land use approaches.
Similarly to other uses that historically have seen discriminatory zoning practices over the years, such as strip clubs, tattoo parlors, and pawn shops, zoning can play a critical role in ensuring that regardless of whether your community wants it or not, you can thoughtfully guide this emerging market in meaningful ways that are well within your control.
L&G is poised to assist bring this emerging industry to its true potential to serve people and our economy - not merely taxable income to governmental coffers...
Urban Planner specializing in matters of community and economic development significance - state and local.