Axel Owen Named Campaign Manager of NJ CAN 2020 to Win Yes Vote on NJ Marijuana Question

Axel Owen Named Campaign Manager of

NJ CAN 2020 to Win Yes Vote on NJ Marijuana Question


Political committee NJ CAN 2020 announces longtime NJ campaign strategist will lead efforts to secure “yes” vote on November’s question to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis for adult use


For Immediate Release:

June 19, 2020


NEWARK – NJ CAN 2020, the political committee leading the charge to legalize marijuana in November, announced Axel Owen as the campaign manager for the inclusive and robust effort leading to a “yes” vote on the 2020 ballot question to legalize cannabis in New Jersey.


Owen, an experienced political operative in New Jersey, brings years of state and national campaign experience to the position. Most recently, Owen served as statewide organizing director for the Mike Bloomberg 2020 presidential campaign. He served as political director for the New Jersey State Democratic Committee and as campaign manager on the winning campaigns of Senator Vin Gopal, Senator Joseph A. Lagana, Assemblywoman Joann Downey, Assemblyman Roy Freiman, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker. 


NJ CAN 2020, formed in the spring, brings together organizational members of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, including the ACLU of New Jersey, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, Latino Action Network, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and along with industry partners from the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, the NJ CannaBusiness Association, and Weedmaps, as well as other leaders in the movement to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.


Axel Owen, Campaign Manager, NJ CAN 2020, said: “I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to bring real change to how New Jersey handles the social, racial, and economic justice of the war on marijuana. I look forward to uniting New Jerseyans around fixing the social, racial, and economic injustices that have derailed countless lives here in our state.”


Amol Sinha, Executive Director, ACLU of New Jersey, said: “This campaign will not be politics as usual in New Jersey. We will center racial justice, help end the failed drug war, and build political power leading to a yes vote in November. We’re thrilled to have Axel Owen, a seasoned campaigner, manage this inclusive effort and see to its victory.”


Sarah Fajardo, Policy Director, ACLU of New Jersey, said: “The racial disparities in marijuana arrests have only grown more pronounced, and it’s urgent for us to halt the injustices of prohibition by legalizing marijuana in a way that centers racial and social justice.


NJ CAN 2020 will give us momentum and power in creating a more equitable, more inclusive New Jersey, and having Axel Owen on board will allow us to make an even greater impact, at a time when joining our voices together has never had more importance. The dual crises of

COVID-19 in prisons and police violence reveal exactly why the cruelty of unnecessary, racially inequitable enforcement must end now.”


Richard Smith, President, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, said: “The New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP is excited to be a part of NJ CAN 2020 – the state’s leading marijuana legalization political committee. We will work tirelessly to ensure all marijuana legalization efforts include social justice provisions, such as equal access to the market along with a free, streamlined expungement process. Marijuana legalization is far more than introducing a new industry in New Jersey – it is about repairing inequitable drug laws that continue to ravage Black and Brown communities. The leadership of the New Jersey NAACP remains steadfast in its commitment to inform the public about all aspects of legalization and pass a successful ballot initiative.”


Christian Estevez, President, Latino Action Network, said: “The Latino Action Network (LAN) is proud to be a part of NJ CAN 2020 and the effort to legalize cannabis in New Jersey. For far too long, cannabis has been used as an excuse to lock up Latinos. We are eager to celebrate an end to this great injustice.”


David Nathan, Founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, said: “I’m proud of the public health-minded approach that NJUMR and NJ CAN 2020 both have taken to cannabis legalization and regulation. As a physician, a father of two New Jersey teens, and the founder of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, I urge voters to support NJ CAN 2020 and vote yes in November.”


Jon-Henry Barr, Clark Township Municipal Prosecutor and Past President, New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association, said: “By and large, New Jersey’s municipal prosecutors are tired of prosecuting their fellow citizens for this victimless offense, which ties up law enforcement resources in perpetuating unjust policies from the failed war on drugs.”


Bill Caruso, Partner, Archer Law, said: “I have been honored to stand with longtime proponents of racial and social justice reform and advocates for safe patient access to usher in the prospect of a growing new economy and fairer cannabis policy as part of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. We plan to finish that initial task this fall and continue to educate the public on the benefits of legalization. And, we need to advocate for a fair, just, and functional statutory and regulatory framework now so that the public can know exactly what they are voting for in November. I’m excited to continue that work with NJ CAN 2020.”


Scott Rudder, President, New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said: “Cannabis-related job growth will be a critical part of our economic recovery as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. While these may be uncertain times, one thing is absolutely certain: it’s better to create a job than deny someone their freedom for cannabis possession.  In order to ensure the best chance for successful passage of the ballot question on Nov. 3, we need experienced leadership to manage the campaign effort.  Having Axel take the helm as campaign manager, with his record of success and compassion for this issue, is the right move.  I am excited for the

NJCBA to be part of the dynamic team that comprises NJ CAN 2020.”


Lynn Nowak, Executive Vice President, Porzio Governmental Affairs, LLC, said: “I am proud to have been an advisor to NJUMR since its creation and to now be a part of NJ CAN 2020. We will give voters the reasons to vote yes on the cannabis ballot question to ensure that no one is arrested for something that is now legal in 11 other states plus the District of Columbia. A yes vote will create a new industry and new tax revenue at a time when New Jersey sorely needs both.”


Michael Bronstein, President of the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp, said: “NJ CAN 2020 is powered by a broad coalition of advocates, industry, social justice organizations, labor, and people of New Jersey who strongly support the legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in support of New Jersey’s ballot initiative. With the hiring of Campaign Manager Axel Owen, NJ CAN 2020 is well positioned to run a successful, data-driven campaign that will unite New Jerseyans and legalize adult use marijuana.”


Shaun Chapman, Director Government Relations, Weedmaps said: “When you look at where we were two years ago, and where we are now—in so many ways and for so many reasons—our progress has been remarkable. Cannabis legalization is a real and significant component of impactful criminal justice reform, social justice and economic empowerment. And it’s time is now for New Jersey. We’re excited and energized to be working with Axel and the broad coalition of voices that have come together to make it happen.”

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