Rob Cressen, a New Jersey CannaBusiness Association board member provided a statement similar in tone to many others presented at the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee on March 5. Speaking on the importance of medical marijuana programs Cressen said, “Listen, I’ve got 99 problems, but thanks to cannabis therapy, addiction to opioids is not one of them.”

Interest in New Jersey’s proposed cannabis legalization bill has proven to be high and largely positive, as last night’s meeting was standing room only. Attendance of both invited speakers and those who signed up to testify was enormous.

Topics of testimony ranged from pushes toward the legalization of medical marijuana to the expungement of past cannabis-related convictions. On the latter topic, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission board member Shanel Lindsay stated, “creating a path to prosperity for people with past marijuana convictions by expunging their records and explicitly allowing them to own and work for cannabis companies is one of the most important steps we can take towards justice and economic empowerment for the communities that have been harmed.”

Colorado State Rep. Dan Pabon then discussed the benefits the increased tax revenues from cannabis sales have provided his state saying, “What we did with the first $40 million of our excise tax is we dedicated that to schools construction in Colorado, all over the state but mostly rural schools. They have an increase in the capitol construction programs that they didn’t have previously.” 

While the mood in the room largely swayed towards pro-cannabis legalization measures, this sentiment was not without its opponents. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Captain Todd Raybuck strongly condemned cannabis legalization saying, “The seizure of illegal marijuana in 2017, after we legalized it there for retail sales, increased 47 percent over 2016, so the illegal market is flourishing.” 

Through June there are five more hearings scheduled on the topic of cannabis legalization in New Jersey. A bill will not be introduced until sometime after the hearings have wrapped up.