New Jersey State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D), the architect of the proposed cannabis legalization bill, authored an op-ed advocating for the creation of a Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission has been a hotly debated topic in the legalization process. The various legalization bills that have been drafted have included versions of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (originally named the “Division of Marijuana Enforcement”), which would be designed to function as the state regulatory body for the adult use legal cannabis industry. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission would establish the number of licenses to be issued to growers and retailers, process license applications and have the authority to regulate the cannabis industry.
Sen. Scutari’s position is that New Jersey should learn from its past and emulate the New Jersey casino industry. In the 1970s, New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne established a five-member New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which provided oversight to the gambling industry. Sen. Scutari argues that establishing a Cannabis Regulatory Commission will ensure the success of an adult use cannabis industry by serving as an independent commission that would protect the industry from outside influences.
Along with the appropriate level of taxation, the existence of a Cannabis Regulatory Commission – as well as how long it would be in place and the extent of its powers – is a primary focus in the debates concerning legalizing cannabis in New Jersey. Sen. Scutari’s op-ed suggests that cannabis legalization remains a high level priority and that, perhaps, agreement about a regulatory body is one of the few remaining punch list items for legislators to complete before voting on a bill.