PLAINFIELD, NJ - The city's administration held a town hall with a panel of experts to discuss marijuana legislation and medical expansion regulations on Wednesday at Plainfield's Washington Community School.
There are currently six treatment centers in New Jersey, in Bellmawr, Cranbury, Egg Harbor, Montclair, Secaucus and Woodbridge. In July the New Jersey Department of Health received 146 applications for another six locations that will open.
Ken Wolski, Executive Director and Co-founder of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey, said that since Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 6 at the start of 2018, fees for the medical marijuana program have been reduced, and an additional 10,000 people have signed up since the governor took office. An expansion of allowable medical conditions now includes chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, migraine, anxiety, chronic pain of visceral origin, and Tourette's syndrome.
Todd Conforti, who is the Chief of Police in Montclair Township, said that a dispensary was opened in his town in 2012. He mentioned it is secure, has had no calls for service, and there is no loitering outside the facility. A person needs to be buzzed in and possess a medical card. He said the dispensary is just another business in town that is regulated, and there has been no uptick in crime.
Alex Stone is the CEO of Stone and the Family Canna Co. His company provides strategic planning and marketing advice, and strives to make an impact on urban youth. He and Alex Santana, Director, Wipro Digital & Designit, said that an allotted number of licenses should go to minorities.
Scott Rudder, President of the Board of Directors for the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, ticked off issues that people bring up in opposition of legalizing marijuana like addictive properties, impaired driving and traffic fatalities; he countered that accidents are up because of people looking at their phones while driving, and it is no more addictive than sugar.
Rudder remarked that when dispensaries go up, crime goes down in that area because of increased security measures.
On expungement, the act of sealing or erasing a legal record of an arrest or conviction in the eyes of the law, Stone said it will be an immediate process once regulations are relaxed. Rudder said the process will happen as fast as possible, but noted that some cases are decades old, and that it can't be instantaneous.
Robert Russo, a former Mayor of Montclair Township, and currently a Councilman-At-Large, said he is in favor of expungement but not for those who made money selling the drug.
Panelists told audience members who want to get involved to consider selling ancillary services like security, HVAC, and vaporizers for the cannabis industry.
Rudder said that there was $1.5 billion in cannabis sales in Colorado last year; ancillary sales totaled $1.3 billion. Citing populations, he remarked that New Jersey should almost double Colorado's sales.
A survey was distributed to attendees with the following questions requiring a yes or no answer:
- Are you in favor of medical marijuana?
- Are you in favor of adult-use of recreational marijuana?
- Should the manufacturing of medical marijuana products be allowed in the City of Plainfield?
- Should the dissemination of medical marijuana products be allowed in the City of Plainfield?
- Should the retail sale of recreational marijuana products be allowed in the City of Plainfield?
It will be interesting to see the results.