Photo Credit: MARC SCHWARZ
The message was clear. Medical marijuana expansion is happening and legalization is coming.
But patience is needed, Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley (D-20th District) and Jeffrey Brown, assistant commissioner for medicinal marijuana for the New Jersey Department of Health, told a crowd of 250-plus at the inaugural CannaGather NJ event Tuesday night at Taphaus in Jersey City.
“We’re expanding,” Brown said, who cited a three-step process:
1. Immediate actions that are already being implemented include the opening of a sixth alternative treatment center, Harmony Dispensary in Secaucus; increasing the eligible conditions for medical marijuana and the growing number of patients — Brown said the number would top 25,000 this week.
2. Action through regulation. The department recently published its proposed amendments which include reducing costs of registration to $20 for two years for 55 percent of patients.
3. Long-term actions which include legalization efforts through the legislature and trying to get private investors and medical research facilities to coordinate efforts. “We want to develop innovative products,” Brown said. He has heard from many patients who say they wish they could get in New Jersey products they can find in Colorado or California. “I want this to be the other way around,” he said. “I want people in Colorado and California asking, ‘Why can’t I get what they have in New Jersey?”
Speaking to the legislative efforts, Holley was clear in his assessment.
“We will have legalization of marijuana,” he said. “It will take some time.”
Some of the obstacles, Holley said, were the current state budget battle which forced the delay of hearings on the bill he proposed as well as working out the details so that it can be passed. “We need to get it right,” he added.
One element that won’t be considered in the near future is allowing for home growing of marijuana, Holley said in response to several questions on the topic.
The event also featured speakers from several cannabis related companies including the founders of Solis Tek, a vertically integrated technology innovator, developer, manufacturer and distributor; Eaze, a California-based delivery service often referred to as “Uber for Pot”; The Medicine Men, a Jersey City-based CBD company; and Tenisha Victor from CBD for Life and MPX Bioceutical.