The 90-minute webinar, “Cannabis Legalization and Your Town,” examined the state of efforts to pass the upcoming ballot referendum on adult-use cannabis legalization, the state of the medical cannabis program during the pandemic, potential tax and employment benefits and issues for municipalities, and whether cannabis companies can force their way into town.
Here’s a quick rundown:
Jeff Brown, the head of the Department of Health’s Medicinal Marijuana Program, said the program faced many challenges during the early days of the pandemic.
“New Jersey got hit particularly hard early on so a lot of us were deployed to help out with our COVID response efforts,” Brown said. “Many of us took on second and third jobs. I think, for a time cannabis became my night job as we were setting up the field hospital in Atlantic City, and a lot of that work continues.”
One of the biggest challenges early on, he said, was the extensive lines at some of the dispensaries but the state was able to implement several solutions to help including Gov. Phil Murphy’s order declaring medical cannabis an essential business, easing the process for allowing dispensaries to get employees onboard more quickly, as well as putting in place volume-based discounts, a waiver permitting curbside pickup and telephonic consultations, and, most recently, a waiver for home delivery.
In terms of home rule, Brown declined to discuss more specifics because of a case filed against the department over last year’s Request for Applications but he did say some of the program’s rules were deliberately designed to be deferential to communities.