It took a big push by major corporations to bring a whole new industry- casinos- to New Jersey. Marijuana interests may need a similar boost.
While medical marijuana already has been legalized in the state, legislation allowing recreational use has run into stiff resistance even though pro-marijuana spending on lobbying rose nearly 319 percent to $1.4 million in 2018.
Governor Murphy and legislative leaders are continuing to hold meetings to try to rescue the bill, which Senate President Steve Sweeney gave only a 50-50 change of passage on April 29, 2019.
Even as they deliberate, a sea change is taking place in the marijuana industry as it attempts to gain legitimacy and public acceptance.
Recently, Altria, the tobacco giant, invested $1.8 million in cannabis company Cronos Group, according to an April 23, 2019 Politico story. Politico reported the next day that another major corporation, Harvest Health and Recreation, was in the process of purchasing two U.S. marijuana companies, Canna Pharmacy and Verano Holdings. Both have interests in New Jersey.
According to Sam Hutton, writing for Politico, if the New Jersey Department of Health approves the acquisition, it would have Harvest maintaining “control over one-sixth of New Jersey’s marijuana market.”
Moreover, Harvest would have the right to operate two marijuana dispensaries, one in Woodbridge and the other in Union County. The Union County dispensary would also involve a cultivation factory.