Today Presents Important Vote for NJ and Nascent Cannabis Industry

Trump should be censured, Magazzu writes.Magazzu

In its lame duck session, the New Jersey state legislature has an important vote regarding whether to allow the question of adult cannabis use on the November 2020 ballot and from what I learned this past week, not only is much of the nation watching, but at least one of our neighboring states may have some hidden hopes that the legislation will fail and no referendum will be allowed.

I am really just a citizen observer regarding the happenings in Trenton and  although I am relatively new to this area of the law, this legislation is of importance to me professionally. My involvement with this issue has come relatively recently when I joined a delegation from New Jersey in the summer of 2018. During that very well-organized visit, the participants were given tours of all variations of businesses which make up the medical and recreational marijuana industries in Nevada.

Shortly thereafter, I was chosen to be local counsel for Columbia Care which was awarded one of the six licenses in the last round for the cultivation and dispensing of medical marijuana in Vineland. Since that time, I have been retained to consult for another national company determining if it wants to make the significant capital contribution required for a vertically integrated project.

In an effort to continue my education in this field, I was delighted to attend the very well-organized conference hosted by MJBizCon during the week of December 7 in Las Vegas Nevada. At the conference there were numerous educational sessions for investors, growers, dispensers and exhibitors from all parts of the cannabis and hemp businesses. I did my very best to attend as many conference sessions as possible, the overwhelming majority of which were extraordinarily helpful and I am sure will redound to the benefit of my clients.

Two of the sessions included presenters which forecast the future of the industry in the Northeast , Midwest and Southern states. Much to my surprise and dismay in both sessions, the presenters opined that the opportunity for adult recreational use being made legal in the state of New Jersey in the near term was viewed as unlikely. One of the speakers gave a fair and even complimentary review of the efforts which lead to the roll out of medical marijuana but then indicated that he thought the elected leadership of the state would not be able to reach a compromise which would result in the electorate voting on legalization of adult use marijuana in November of 2020. Although the presenter was aware that the Governor and the legislature could not agree on language which would outright legalize adult marijuana use by law  and he was further aware that the only other avenue to legalization would be through a referendum. Such a referendum can only be put on the ballot in one of two ways; one of which requires a simple majority vote by both houses of the legislature in the consecutive sessions of 2019 and 2020, or a much more difficult two-thirds approval of both houses in 2020. What was most alarming to me as a professional who hopes to create a practice area in the marijuana and hemp space, was the opinion of the presenter that the odds of obtaining a simple majority this year was unlikely and  if so it would be nearly impossible to obtain a two-thirds majority next year.

When I spoke with this presenter and other attendees after the session, they all agreed that New Jersey’s loss would be New York’s gain and that it was a virtual certainty that New Jersey’s failure to act would turbo charge the efforts in New York and that the national companies looking to do business in New Jersey might quickly abandon the garden state for the neighboring empire state, resulting in many hundreds of millions of dollars going over the bridge to our neighbors to the east.

There are many others who are much better able to speak to the social justice and equity issues which must be address if adult use is approved as well as handicap the likelihood of for the passage of the referendum legislation during the last session of the year as well as in 2020. It would be quite unfortunate and ironic for New Jersey to abandon the regional leadership position it attained from the experience with medical marijuana and cede the adult use space to New York State. For those reasons, I am hopeful that leaders from all regions of the state and from both parties will be able to reach a consensus on this legislation during the lame duck session of this year.

Lou Magazzu was a Freeholder in Cumberland County NJ from 1998-2011 and the longest serving Freeholder in that county in the last 50 years. He also served as Freeholder Director as well as County Democratic Chairman. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Counties, was the Chairman of the National Democratic County Officials as well as President of the New Jersey Association of Counties. He can be reached at

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6 responses to “Today Presents Important Vote for NJ and Nascent Cannabis Industry”

  1. Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

      • The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

        Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our yearly tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

        The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

        Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

        Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

        The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

        Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

        Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

        • In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

          In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

          Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

          People who consume marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

          Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make them out to be. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

          Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

          Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

          To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

          There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

          So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

          We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

          Has a marijuana consumer ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force anybody not to either.

          Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon everybody else with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

          Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

          • Marijuana Consumers Are Not Criminals!

            End the systematically failed both state and federal policies of criminalizing consumers of a natural, relatively benign plant proven to be far safer than perfectly legal, widely accepted alcohol and tobacco.

            End The Federal Prohibition of Marijuana Now!

            Legalize Nationwide! State by state if need be!

            It’s time our country wakes up and learns from our history.

            Prohibition does not prevent people from consuming marijuana. The demand will be there always and therefore marijuana will always be served up to the public regardless of marijuana prohibition laws. The alcohol prohibition era criminal organizations and gangsters such as Al Capone of yesteryear are the Pablo Escobar, El Chapo and drug cartels of today.

            The Temperance Movement didn’t catch on and last in part because it was a dead horse from the start.

            Prohibition only serves to further fuel the vast wealth and corruption, violence and death attributed to the criminal organizations which flourish under it by providing marijuana to meet the continual demand at inflated prices. Just like with alcohol, marijuana prohibition doesn’t work, makes no sense, and costs the tax payers a fortune yearly.

            Legalization creates jobs, improves the economy and let’s us as a nation focus the wasted resources currently used to criminalize citizens over marijuana towards things much more needed and useful.

            This is how freedoms get taken away from The People. First, a small minority doesn’t morally approve of marijuana. Tomorrow, it’s R-Rated movies, certain books and literature and eventually that minority aspires to make every citizen conform to their personal sense of morality through laws which criminalize everything that they personally don’t approve of.

            Tell us something prohibitionists:

            Why do you feel justified in endlessly wasting billions upon billions of our yearly tax dollars continuing to arrest, criminalize, incarcerate, and hand out life long permanent criminal records to otherwise hard-working, tax-paying, adult citizens for choosing to consume marijuana although it is far safer than perfectly legal, widely accepted alcohol?

            Shouldn’t their first and foremost priority be protesting the legality of alcohol if they really aren’t just biased and truly so cornered about other people on what those whom oppose marijuana legalization deem to be a “dangerous drug”?

            Why do the anti-marijuana folk apply such a blatantly obvious unfair double standard to far less dangerous marijuana that they obviously don’t apply equally to far more deadly, dangerous and harmful yet perfectly legal, widely accepted alcohol?

            Legalize Nationwide!

          • “Marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

            Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

            Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”

            “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”


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