LITTLE FALLS, NJ -- TAPintoTV’s Brian Brodeur spoke with NJ CannaBusiness Association President, Edmund Deveaux, in a wide-ranging conversation in December 2020. Today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation to formally legalize marijuana in the state.
The NJ CannaBusiness Association was started by Deveaux and his colleagues at Burton Trent Public Affairs based in Trenton, NJ following an information gathering trip to several western states that had previously legalized cannabis. “We decided that the industry in New Jersey would need a professional organization to lead its efforts,” Deveaux explained. “We co-created the NJ CannaBusiness Association whose main role is to actually start a responsible and sustainable cannabis industry in New Jersey.”
The NJCA operates in similar ways to a chamber of commerce, with members including accountants, attorneys, engineers, and insurance representatives. “It’s all of the ancillary businesses that will help make up the industry going forward.” Deveaux said.
On November 3rd, 2020, New Jersey voters approved a state constitutional amendment that legalized cannabis, which followed the 10-year-old medical cannabis program that currently operates in the state. The CannaBusiness Association will work to support a normalized industry that functions without “artificial barriers,” Deveaux noted. “Let the marketplace decide.”
Deveaux highlighted his support for promoting business opportunities within communities that have been disproportionately affected by the criminalization of cannabis, fostering small business growth as well as communication between industry leaders and local municipalities. “We want to go to Main Street before we go to Wall Street," Deveaux said. “We want small, local businesses to get established before we start talking about having large multi-state operating companies coming in and essentially creating a box store environment. It’s better for the economy if we support local small and mid-sized businesses.”
Cannabis legalization has been passed in several states, and related policy discussions often revolve around the topics of social justice, industry regulation and implementation at municipal levels. Taxation and revenue generation from the cannabis industry are also a major factor. “When we talk about the pandemic, we are looking at the cannabis industry as essentially a recession-proof or pandemic-proof industry,” Deveaux explained. “What we found was the dispensaries were picking up business because the pandemic created a lot of mental health strain as well as physical health strain.”
New Jersey lawmakers have considered legislation that will direct tax revenue from the sale of cannabis to communities that have been more impacted by zero-tolerance drug policies. “It addresses how the tax revenue will help them effectuate ways to grow business—and that can only help,” Deveaux added.
Deveaux described a number of ways that people can find employment opportunities within the growing cannabis industry including cultivation, processing, dispensing, and delivery. “There are going to be different avenues, different ways to get involved in this industry,” Deveaux said. “It will create at least some level economic parity, which when we talk about social justice reform, it’s not just the expungement of records, but it’s what do you do to help people going forward.”
The economic impact of the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry will be significant. The NJ CannaBusiness Association will be working closely with the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission and has communicated with law enforcement and medical groups as well. “While there is an economic discussion, there are concerns,” Deveaux noted. “The Cannabusiness Association is not going to shy away from those serious discussions.”
“We stand with the law enforcement community in hopes that there will be a way to test on-site to see if people are driving impaired,” Deveaux explained. “No one in our association would ever promote irresponsible use. We don’t promote use by minors, and we certainly don’t promote irresponsible use by adults—much like drinking and driving.”
Deveaux has spoken with the Academy of Family Practitioners regarding the lack of formal physician industry training, and advocates the development of a cannabis education community. Deveaux supports making more training and resources available, “so law enforcement, and the medical communities are working with us as well as the economic community,” he said.
For more information about Edmund Deveaux and the NJ CannaBusiness Association, visit: www.newjerseycannabusiness.com