5 Easy Ways to (help) Fix NJ’s Broken Cannabis Industry

Statehouse

How badly does New Jersey’s legal cannabis program stink?

Let me count the ways.

Here are a few suggestions how the Governor, the Attorney General, the legislature, regulators, and the cannabis industry can raise the bar RIGHT NOW (but probably won’t.)

Governor Murphy

April 21 marked the one year anniversary of recreational cannabis sales in NJ. The symbolism wasn’t lost on Gov. Phil Murphy who sent a tweet promoting NJ’s progress ending the War on Drugs. He included a cool meme highlighting the number of applications processed by cannabis regulators.

Of course if he really wanted to mark this milestone substantively, NJ Governor Phil Murphy could at any time issue a blanket pardon for those convicted of low-level, non-violent pot crimes.

According to Micah Rasmussen, who leads the Rebovich Institute for NJ Politics, it’s well within Murphy’s power.

“Pardons would be easier than expungements, but both involve all the municipal courts,” Mr. Rasmussen told InsiderNJ “There’s already an online statewide system to pay traffic tickets so obviously we have a handle on paying statewide.”

So it’s that easy?

“The pardon process is whatever Gov. Murphy wants it to be,” Mr. Rasmussen added. “By practice there’s a review by the Governor’s counsel office. But a blanket thing probably wouldn’t need to be complicated if everyone is treated the same.”

That’s why 4/20 was the perfect day to pardon low-level pot crimes en masse.

Right now would be the next best time.

 

NJ Attorney General Matthew Platkin

New Jersey has no provisions for the home cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes. That makes NJ an outlier where one measly pot plant means serious jail time.

And thanks to aggressive lobbying by dispensary owners, there’s not much appetite in the State House to legalize home cultivation, not even for sick people.

But there’s a workaround that could get us halfway there.

NJ’s Attorney General Matthew Platkin could ostensibly decriminalize home cultivation with a memorandum of guidance to New Jersey’s 21 county prosecutors instructing them to lay off those who run afoul of NJ’s punitive anti-home grow laws.

That’s a half measure, a far cry from our legislature carrying out the will of the people. But it’s a heckuva lot better than locking people up for growing weed.

But this idea won’t fly because according to sources in the AG’s office, the front office (aka Murphy) wants to gate-keep any (and all) cannabis-related initiatives such as this one.

What’s up with that?

The New Jersey Legislature

My god what a hapless bunch.

Lawmakers in Trenton have zero appetite to legalize the home cultivation of cannabis. NJ Senate President Nick Scutari deserves 100% of the credit or blame, depending on your perspective.

Lawmakers in Trenton have ZERO appetite for legislation to expunge low-level pot crimes. Too hard.

But at least they can hold hearings right?

The Health Committee could examine if medical cannabis users are getting a fair shot in the recreational era. The Consumer Affairs Committee could examine the marketing practices of the cannabis industry. The Environmental Committee could examine this new industry’s ecological impact and promote better, greener innovation.

But none of this will happen in a legislature that for decades has kicked the can and passed the buck on weed.

Regulators

NJ Cannabis regulators have a thankless job in an industry filled with competing interests rowing in different directions. You’ve got advocates like myself fighting for patients and consumers. You’ve got an industry fighting for…. itself. Then there are pols like Vin Gopal who want to disband NJ’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission altogether.

The NJ CRC also has a messaging problem that makes it hard to drive the debate in a meaningful way. When it really matters, the CRC’s comms team comes off timid or even non-existent.

For example, when regulators went to war with Curaleaf and jerked their license, the CRC’s comms team was MIA.

If Curaleaf’s rejection was a response to their failure to prioritize medical users in the wake of recreational sales, then it’s unacceptable that the CRC didn’t have a press strategy that explained what all the tumult means for medical cannabis users.

There was no such explainer anywhere on CRC’s website or on their socials.

New Jersey taxpayers foot the bill for the extra layer of bureaucracy that is the CRC. We deserve to know what’s going on in a timely manner, for better or worse. We deserve a communications team that’s nimble and serves consumers while driving the debate in novel, clever ways (see @NJGov) and that’s not what we’re getting.

 

Dispensaries

The great Curaleaf v CRC kerfuffle began because of Curaleaf’s treatment of its workers.

When Curaleaf temporarily lost their license to sell in NJ, their fightback included the very best lobbyists, lawyers, and PR flacks that money buy.

If they can afford all that (while charging $500 for an ounce of mediocre weed)  then surely Curaleaf can pay their workers $20/hour and provide a modicum of job security.

That’s not a lot to ask. Blessedly, NJ cannabis regulators agree and finally started playing hardball to prove it.

Jay Lassiter has been HIV+ for over 31 years and has smoked pot the entire time. Most of that time as a criminal, including today. 

(Visited 2,540 times, 1 visits today)

11 responses to “5 Easy Ways to (help) Fix NJ’s Broken Cannabis Industry”

  1. Now that wehave drugs and gambling the two best businesses and give don Murphy his share we should also get prostitution then we could move on the other states and make them an offer they can’t refuse

  2. Sales taxes were supposed to be the panacea to reduce or eliminate property taxes by paying for education taxes. Income taxes were the panacea that were supposed to reduce or eliminate property taxes by paying the education taxes. Then it was the lottery. Then it was horse-racing and off-track betting. Next was gambling. Now, it’s cannabis. Everyone, from the government on down, says the cannabis industry is broken. Good!!!!! We don’t need a society of high, addicted stooges. Cannabis of today is a lot more potent than it was back during the Vietnam War Era (1960s-1970s). One can get addicted on today’s cannabis.

    New Jerseyans have been duped since the early 1970s with all sorts of tax scams that were PROMISED to reduce or eliminate education taxes as part of property taxes. Yet, today in 2023, education taxes make up 70-80% of all of New Jersey property taxes, and New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation.

    New Jerseyans have been lied to by mostly Democrats, who’ve controlled the legislature pretty much of 40 out of the 50 years since the 1970s. But, New Jersey voters keep voting the Democrat-Socialists back into office. If New Jersey voters keep voting the same party back into office each election cycle hoping for a different result, then New Jersey voters really are INSANE!!!! And, that’s why New Jersey leads the nation in emigration of its residents to other states.

  3. Drop your prices to street level prices.Why should I pay a high price for weed especially after it’s been tumbled and all those hairs are gone.

  4. You guys need to check out jointz 420 I came across them and there the god of bud.. I swear talking with them I felt I learned the beginning of weed.

  5. I do not agree with what there trying to do with weed like come on it helps people in so many different ways its not funny. An they want to take it away from us an it helps are Economy out an the price for weed 500 an onces that’s alot look at California there like 250 an Oz you take as much as you can from us with are taxes you make us pay all these difrrent fees that mean nothing but another way to get more money in your pockets. The low income people don’t get brakes in life we live check to check why your trying to make the world look better buy making minus wage to go up to 15 dollars after 2024 a dollar a year why the state of New jersey ups the coast of living food housing cloths you name it the price went up sky high gas since Trump left it went up over 2 an a half dollars at one point the highest was 2.20 when Trump was here now it’s what 3.50 a gallon now last summer was up to 5 dollars a gallon just because you you pay us a little bit more money you take it back from us buy making are daily life’s harder to survive because you ueaised everything in the world so it makes it harder for us to survive. New jersey voted yes for legal weed an now you want to penalizes the companies because they want more money from the states like cut us a brake this is real life for under class people it’s you have money or your poor no middle class no more I can keep going New jersey is going down the wrong road please help us get back on the right road. Thank you

  6. The first thing that they need to do is to get rid of the politicians that are under union control as unions do nothing to help a new market they only serve themselves

  7. The industry is going to stay broken until the buy a sticker get a marijuana gift scam comes to an end! Any other industry would have had enforcement actions built into the legislation! If you run an unlicensed exterminator business that’s a serious crime but selling weed in a Bud Bus is ok?
    NJ should be embarrassed at the lack of oversight and the tax dollars lost to illegal smoke shops.
    And really…no home cultivation? We know NJ is run by the pharmaceutical industry but is allowing 5 plants per person going to bankrupt Pfizer?

  8. Drop the federal regulations on pot ! I don’t know if it will
    help my arthritis but if I try it and get drug tested, I’m fired because my company goes by federal law.

  9. Let’s be honest. Our state leaders are crooks, pure and simple. They will approve nothing unless they can get a piece of it, and there’s no way to do that from home cultivation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News From Around the Web

The Political Landscape