In anticipation of electing a new governor in November 2017 and enactment of adult use (recreational) cannabis legislation in the first half of 2018, the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association and industry thought leader Weedmaps sponsored the first education seminar on Cannabis Policy, Zoning & Licensing designed for New Jersey public officials on September 14 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Moderated by David O’Brien, Director, East Coast Government Relations, Weedmaps, the panel discussed what constitutes good local cannabis policy, what has worked and not worked in legalized jurisdictions, and how to create a responsible local marketplace for the cannabis industry while ensuring public safety, protecting public health, and deterring youth from use.

DM Partner Paul Josephson capped off the discussion with a presentation on the likely framework and key provisions of the new regulatory structure legislators are presently discussing based on pending legislation and his regulatory experience as the counsel to several governors and their campaigns, and as the Director of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Law. His presentation highlighted local zoning and regulatory powers and revenue sharing under the proposed legislation, as well as key open issues yet to be resolved. A copy of the bill and Mr. Josephson’s presentation can be found here.

Nicolas Gonzalez-Podesta, Manager, Special Projects, Weedmaps, provided information on how cannabis is grown, processed and affects the body. Mike James, CFO of Terra Tech Corp. discussed the economics of the cannabis business and Kris Krane, President of 4Front Ventures offered his perspective on levels of taxation and regulatory and zoning policies in other states.

Peter Cammarano, President of the NJCIA and Mayor of the Borough of Metuchen in Central Jersey, gave an overview of legislative action federally and at the state level and spoke to his perspective as a mayor on the drain of resources caused by enforcement of current cannabis laws. Mayor Cammarano’s sentiments were confirmed from the municipal prosecutor’s perspective by Jon-Henry Barr, Secretary of the NJ State Municipal Prosecutors Association. Todd Edwards, Political Action Chair of the NJ Chapter of the NAACP offered his organization’s take on the toll current marijuana enforcement policy is having on communities of color and minority participation in a regulated landscape.

NJCIA and Weedmaps plan more sessions in the future as New Jersey’s legislation advances.