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Green in The Garden State: The Business Benefits of Legalization in New Jersey

Earlier this month, new legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey was formally introduced.

It may have felt like only a decade or so ago that marijuana was too taboo a discussion to be taken seriously, but the tide has clearly changed. National pollster Gallup has noted that almost two-thirds of respondents favored the idea of legalizing weed in 2017, a 39% point jump from 1995. This is reflected in the growing patchwork of changing policies nationwide, ranging from legal medicinal marijuana in states like New York or Florida to full-on legal recreational use in states like Colorado and California.

New Jersey is a bit of a unique case here. The most densely-populated state in the country already a legal possession limit of up to 2 oz. for medicinal purposes. But what’s especially notable is that the state’s latest governor, Phil Murphy, ran with legalization as a central part of his platform, and wants legal weed as the law of the land by the end of the year. New Jersey’s strong business combined with the legal marijuana boom could be a marriage in economic heaven—if it can come to pass.

Legalization: How Close Is NJ?

When one looks at the current state legislature, one that is legislatively dominated by Democrats, one would think that this would be a slam-dunk. But as it turns out, there may still be some roadblocks to navigate.

Earlier this month, new legislation was introduced formally, which would legalize recreational marijuana and expand the medical cannabis program. The legalization of marijuana and the revenue it brings in is a big part of Gov. Murphy’s other plans, and this is reflected in his 2019 fiscal budget, which is accounting for $60 million in revenues. The legislation would allow people 21 and over to possess, buy, use, or transport an ounce or less of marijuana, less than other states with legalization on the books. Any health-care practitioner permitted to prescribe controlled substances would be allowed to write prescriptions.

However, there was pushback, for a variety of reasons. Some of this is traditional opposition, while others consider freeing those arrested for marijuana-related crimes a bigger priority. Others are more concerned about public safety issues, especially on the road. In total, there are now 21 no votes in the state senate as well as 14 undecided votes. 16 votes in total from this pool would be needed to approve the bill, with voting anticipated to happen at the end of the month.

NJ’s Potential Pot Profit

Murphy’s interest in marijuana revenues is well founded. If we look to Colorado, the state managed to earn almost a quarter billion dollars in tax revenue from marijuana sales. To put this in perspective, Colorado has 5 million people compared to New Jersey’s roughly 9 million. There’s a reason why people are anticipating the cannabis market to make as much as $75 billion by 2030.

Naturally, dispensaries are a part of this, but the cannabis industry is much larger than just the product itself, not to mention adjacent industries that stand to benefit indirectly. Examples of these will include concepts like:

· Delivery Services

· Gardening Products/Tools

· Industry Consulting

· Packaging

· Accessory Makers (papers, trays, glass vessels)

And these are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential, as we are already seeing in California and elsewhere. Many investors have done extremely well by supporting the creation of apps and digital platforms to allow marijuana users to connect with each other and dispensaries. By the same token, digital marketing and software are in their relative infancy for the cannabis industry, allowing people to get in on the ground floor.

There’s the opportunity to get creative as well. Florists, event planners, and even security services are all industries that have grown due to the advent of legal cannabis. To close the discussion, I would like to point out one potential benefit that New Jersey has for the cannabis market: location. If legalization comes to pass, New Jersey would be the first East Coast state south of Massachusetts to do so. This opens a massive weed tourism opportunity, especially with the lucrative New York and Philadelphia markets on the state’s doorstep.

Right now, while legal marijuana in the state is getting pushback from surprising sources, having the state’s governor behind it is something that New Jersey has never had before. Considering the overall national trend towards cannabis acceptance, we may see a huge new market for legal marijuana sooner rather than later.

Author bio: Ryan Velez is a Health Content Specialist with Article-Writing.co and freelance writer/editor from central New Jersey, with a background in B2B journalism and health writing. Since picking up freelancing in 2015, he’s worked with clients from different fields and across the globe to create informative and appealing content. When not writing, he’s always trying to scope out a new restaurant to visit.

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