I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at our conference Thursday. Our panelists, CannaTalk presenters and our sponsors are the real stars. We couldn’t have done it without you.
This is our first in-person conference since March 2020, and we’re eager to fist bump with as many insiders as you are. As with our previous events this year, I’ll be moderating several panels along with our Cannabis Insider team Amanda Hoover, Jonathan Salant and Enrique Lavin. We want to give a shout out here to our events team, Kristen Ligas and our newest colleague Niyala Shaw, for coordinating all the details to put on a great event.
Next week, we’ll be offering special coverage of the conference and all the power players on deck.
Inside this edition, we have a preview about an upcoming informational session being held by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission next week that will go over the recent rules and regulations. At our event tomorrow, we’ll hear what more CRC Chairwoman Dianna Houenou has to say about the CRC town hall.
The centerpiece of this week’s issue is our CannaTalk presenters. For the conference, we created breakout sessions for experts in a wide range of niche fields — education, the workforce, lab testing, construction, manufacturing, security and hemp. Read a preview of what they’ll talk about inside.
Also inside, we reposted Jonathan’s story on the increased chance of the the SAFE, Banking Act becoming law, and a we posted a link to reserve tickets to our upcoming Career Fair & Business Expo at Stockton University, in collaboration with the New Jersey CannaBusiness Assn. and the university.
Whether it be overviews or events, at the heart of this is education, an understanding of the regulations, visions of what the industry can be and where it can go will continue to influence the conversation.
If one thing is clear, it’s this: Things are just getting started. Foundations, however, are everything.
Both the Garden State and its neighbor across the Hudson are figuring out the best way to lay a strong foundation for something that comes at the intersection of economics, justice and equity.
This is no easy task for any of the players involved.
So, here’s to exploring the road ahead. See you all at the conference.
— Jelani Gibson
Screen shot of the inaugural Cannabis Regulatory Commission meeting earlier this year, with Chairwoman Dianna Houenou.
CRC hosts a town hall meeting to go over rules and regulations Sept. 28
Following the adoption of its initial rules, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission will hold an informational webinar Tuesday evening to walk municipalities, community leaders and potential cannabis business owners through the regulations.
The webinar will take place on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. Officials will provide an overview of the rules and the social equity provisions, and also advise applicants of how they can prepare, according to a Wednesday afternoon announcement. This will include an overview of the types of licenses available, the basic application requirements and the criteria to qualify as a prioritized business, like those run by racial minorities, women, disabled veterans and those affected by marijuana prohibition.
They will also talk about financial service agreements, contracts and what neighborhoods hosting cannabis businesses can expect.
The commission has held several meetings over the past few months as it sought to craft regulations. But members of the public have often come with questions the commission cannot answer due to the nature of the public comment.
The meeting will also focus on next steps for launching the industry, and will touch on notice of application openings and another pre-application webinar. While the legalization law mandated the commission begin accepting applications by Sept. 19, it failed to meet the deadline. As I reported last week, the commission plans to issue a notice in the New Jersey Register as to when it will begin accepting new applications.
Members of the public can submit questions to be answered during the meeting to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Monday.
— Amanda Hoover | NJ.com
NJ Cannabis Insider Live! Fall Conference — CannaTalk speakers
8 presenters give us insights into their niche areas of the cannabis space
For the NJ Cannabis Insider Live! Fall 2021 conference presented by Hance Construction, we created 15-minute breakout sessions for individual speakers to present on specialized topics. We’re calling this sessions the CannaTalk. From educating and fostering the future workforce, to understanding hemp applications, manufacturing packaged THC products, lab testing, security and construction, these speakers, many of whom are our sponsors, have the inside track.
We asked each speaker to send us a preview of what they’ll be talking about at the Sept. 23 conference. Texts have been edited for clarity and space. — Enrique Lavin
ART HANCE, Hance Construction
Construction — What you should know
Art Hance is founder and president of Hance Construction, Inc., a Washington Township-based company which is a leader in turnkey construction management and general contracting services to the industrial, commercial and cannabis markets in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
There are so many people out there that are looking for facilities to start their cannabis operations, and they’re asking for construction prices. They want to know if the building is suitable. But the first thing I ask is, “How are you going to grow?”
If you can’t tell me how you’re going to grow, I can’t tell you how much it’s going to cost. I can’t tell you if the building is going to work. I can’t tell you if you’ve got enough electricity. I can’t tell you if you’ve got enough water.
Once you identify that, you have to be careful how you design a facility around it, leaving yourself some flexibility because growers change, and technology changes. So, what your grower today thinks is the best way to grow, next week could be changed dramatically because of new technology and new lighting, new mechanical systems, new science that comes out on how to grow cannabis.
The third thing, walk before you run. You’re better off building a good small facility than an inferior big one. There are people out there right now that are focused on size. But size doesn’t matter, despite what the old saying says. It’s great to have a big facility, but if you’re producing an inferior product, over time, that’ll catch up with you as the market matures. And what will happen is, whether it be to generate a better-quality product, or meet regulations that may be coming through federal legalization — when you have to upgrade later, you get a double hit. If you have to modify or correct your facilities, which requires taking some of it out of production, you’re hitting your cash flow.
I’ve seen instances where people had built facilities that could churn out huge amounts of cannabis, but they were unable to control the quality of it throughout. You can have a smaller room. It’s easier to control the environment. And any negative exterior inputs like mold or some type of insect infestation, when you have a huge room, you end up compromising that whole product.
Unfortunately, there’s times where the financial demands of the investors, what you spend to build the facility, you’re going to need to put that product out there. That ends up being garbage product.
It’s much easier to swallow destroying a small room of cannabis if it’s compromised than some great, big room. People get so focused on just churning out volume, they forget quality.
For smaller operators, a lot of the same things apply. Many have never grown cannabis. They don’t understand the challenges. So, start off with a less ambitious approach, and get your routine down. Because a lot of growing a product is about routine. It’s easier to do it on a smaller scale, and achieve good results, and then incrementally work up to bigger and bigger production.
The last thing I want to touch on is this: Site selection. What looks like a great buildable site to a cannabis grower may be a nightmare when it comes to approvals and construction. That stream that seems like an attractive feature on a site could take one to two years of permitting — or it could even be the reason why the project can’t be built there.
Many people don’t have a clear idea of what it takes to build and that it’s a process. It’s very complicated. And every site is different because of the local, state and sometimes federal requirements that go into it. People often underestimate what it takes. Locking up a site is just the very beginning of what you must do to build a cannabis facility.
FAYE COLEMAN, Pure Genesis
Hemp — Still a cash crop?
Faye Coleman is CEO of Pure Genesis, board member of Hemp Advisory Council for the New Jersey CannaBusiness Assn. Coleman is a multi-state operator, educator, and consultant within the cannabis industry, with a line of CBD products and community-first business initiatives.
Did you know the first American settlement Jamestown required residents to grow 100 plants a year — used for ropes, sails and clothing? Maybe you knew George Washington grew hemp, but Thomas Jefferson declared that hemp was the FIRST necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.
There are many more fascinating historical facts out there, of course. And as a businesswoman in the space, I have found myself very interested in cannabis or hemp not just because of the financial opportunity, but because of its history, how it can have an impact on the climate as well as the potential to be a CASH crop. Maybe it’s because we’re making history, right now.
I spent my career in engineering and operations before transitioning into cannabis in 2018. My reasons were not purely motivated by business as I am a cancer survivor. I was also very interested in cannabis as an alternative medicine.
Our company is Pure Genesis, or PG, and we are a certified MWBE cannabis business with more than 250 years of experience in supply chain, IT, retail, HR, retail pharmacy and cannabis operations. We continue to expand our positive reach by fulfilling our mission of education, access and advocacy.
Our strategy is simple, we look to cultivate, process, and dispense cannabis in all forms. Our focus is to serve as a business through community-first partnering, offering, among other things, more than a living wage and providing 1% Profit Sharing for the communities where we reside.
We have six business streams where we are focused on acquiring a cannabis license, we are multistate hemp operators, we have a line of CBD beverages called Genesis, that we are launching in Q4 and you could sample at this week’s conference. We have worked on a USDA Hemp research grant with Penn State, Stockton University and the National Hemp Association.
With support from the White House, we have teamed up with the Cannabis Health Equity Movement (CHEM) to cultivate the next generation of cannabis leaders and transform underperforming Black communities by partnering with HBCUs, community colleges and local municipal leaders.
That’s a little about me and Pure Genesis.
New Jersey was among the first three states to have its own Hemp Program approved by the USDA. However, we have yet to create a strong supply chain nor are we able to sell hemp in our cannabis dispensaries.
Clearly, there is more work to be done and that is primarily because of the history that once glorified hemp, began to vilify it, based on greed and hate. But now, with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, there is so much opportunity for the 50,000 uses of hemp across many sectors including agricultural, industrial, medical and nutritional.
I say thank goodness, because hemp is needed. Even more so, as we give thought to climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions. The focus right now is quickly becoming how hemp can be a sustainable resource, because environmental sustainability is imminent if we want to survive, and hemp will be a critical part of that to reduce carbon emissions.
But is hemp still a cash crop? Can you make money farming hemp, processing, decorticating, and/or making products? The short answer is yes, but it’s complicated.
If you plan to enter this market, you must understand that right now, progress is slow, prices are volatile, and regulations are still unclear. Watch the market, watch regulations, understand your strengths in this space, determine what interests you most, and understand carbon credits will be a huge incentive and that government will eventually help.
TARA ‘MISU’ SARGENTE, Blazin’ Bakery
Manufacturing — Edibles, tinctures and legal limits
Tara “Misu” Sargente is CEO/founder of Blazin’ Bakery, New Jersey’s first edibles company and pet CBD line Blazin’ BARKery, with products in 2,000+ shops. Tara co-authored New Jersey’s 2019 Medical Marijuana Law, and is a board member of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Assn.
When people approach me to say they want to get involved in the cannabis industry, I always ask them, “What do you do now?” In almost any profession there are transferable skills; and if you have a skill, it’s more than likely we need it in the cannabis industry.
And so, is manufacturing right for you? I believe it’s one of the most complex to obtain, and it has one of the biggest learning curves. So again, what is your skill set?
For me, my background is design and marketing. I did product packaging and various things like that. When I created Blazin’ Bakery, my expertise wasn’t necessarily in the culinary or the science aspects of the business. But I wanted to create this new product, so the branding, packaging, the community around it, I knew all that.
But then I had to find the right people who knew the culinary and science side of things. I contacted my friend who is a food chemist, who worked for food and fragrance. Then I contacted my friend who was a pastry chef, trained in culinary arts. We got together to collaborate, and that’s how Blazin’ Bakery was born.
If you have strengths in any of those areas, if you’re a culinary genius, if you are in any of the science fields — because this is not a crock pot in your kitchen — then you have a good shot at this. People come up to me and they say, “I have my grandma’s great cookie recipe and I’m going to start an edibles company,” and I say, “That’s nice, that’s about step 200. What else you got?”
Manufacturing is not glamorous. You’re going to be in a factory, with equipment and machinery surrounded by pallets and cardboard boxes. And you’re going to be drowning in compliance.
Manufacturing is very regulated. If you look at the other license types and say you’re a grower, worst case you might kill your plants either by error or be forced to for lack of compliance. As a manufacturer, you can kill a customer, or if you’re running an extraction facility, you could kill a worker or yourself if your equipment is not up to standards or you don’t have good oversight, training and SOPs in place.
And then, there are the regulations: eventually this is going to be federally legal and eventually there’ll be FDA regulations, and you should be thinking about getting your facility to meet all the state and federal standards, OSHA requirements, cGMP and possibly ISO 9001 certification already.
There are also costs to consider: You’re talking about such highly technical equipment — about $50,000 If you want to do ethanol extraction, which is the lowest upfront cost.
To build out a facility, it’s in the hundreds of thousands. If you’re not growing, you have to buy from growers. If you want to meet the gold testing standard in the industry, you will also have to budget for testing your product multiple times. Even though you will have test results from the grower, THC content after extraction can vary batch to batch so you have to test the oil. Then after you make an edible or any kind of ingestible, you need to test the final product for labeling. And then, lawyers — I’m on the phone with at least one type of lawyer every day.
On the other hand, manufacturing is the fastest growing sector in cannabis, right now. And if we look at consumer behavior in regulated states, in other more mature markets you will see a transition where it starts off at about 40% packaged goods — all your different types of concentrates, edibles, topicals — and then about 60% flower because that’s what people are used to. As that market matures, that number completely flips, and it goes from 40% flower or less (some states are slipping into the 30% range) and everything else is your consumer-packaged goods.
So, really it’s the most explosive growth we’re seeing in any area of the cannabis industry. But it’s not the easiest one.
SARAH E. TRENT, NJ Cannabis Certified
Certification — It’s Required. Lean more!
Sarah E. Trent is founder of Valley Wellness a company that applied for a dispensary permit in 2019. Trent also created NJ Cannabis Certified – a one-of-a-kind cannabis education program for entry level jobs in the industry.
Mandatory training for New Jersey’s cannabis industry workers is here. August saw the release of the new Personal Use Cannabis Regulations from the Commission and included therein are the mandatory education requirements for plant touching industry workers. In other words – if you want to work for any class of personal use cannabis business, you will need to show proof of training and pass a background check to get your Identification Card issued by the Commission.
As the founder and lead instructor for NJ Cannabis Certified I assist many individuals that are looking for entry level jobs in the industry and one of the questions I answer most often is – what is the “badge” or “ID Card” that is referenced in the online job description? This is a government (State issued) ID card that gives an individual permission from the state to work for a cannabis business. Sometimes it can take weeks to get this badge because of the amount of time it takes to complete a background check.
The Personal Use Cannabis Rules requires, “every cannabis handler . . .to register with the Commission and be issued a(n) . . . ID Card.” Now, as part of that registration the individual will also be required to show proof training in addition to completing and passing the background check.
New employees can get this training through the company that hired them, or through an outside source as long as the training covers certain topics, including the history of cannabis use, common cultivation techniques, and packaging and labeling.
While multi-state operators may have sufficient internal training resources to meet these requirements, smaller businesses may seek to outsource their training needs, and as long as the training is approved by the Commission, license holders, applicants, or third parties can provide this mandatory training. That is where NJ Cannabis Certified comes in – we hope to be an industry leader in New Jersey specific cannabis education that individuals and businesses alike can turn to.
While the Commission is hard at work scoring the 2019 applications and preparing to release an adult-use RFA, we anticipate that the Commission will soon thereafter promulgate the criteria by which a training program can become certified by the Commission.
And it’s not just training for entry-level jobs in the industry that will be required – each owner, principal, employee, volunteer, or any management services contractor staff of a license-holder needs to complete at least eight hours of ongoing training each calendar year. And NJ Cannabis Certified is preparing additional programming to help new, New Jersey cannabis businesses meet all their training needs.
KRISTIN GOEDDE, Trichome Analytical
Quality Control — Lab testing ensures a trusted product
Kristen Goedde is founder and COO of ISO 17025-accredited cannabis testing laboratory Trichome Analytical, and brings a host of experience in analysis and laboratory management. Having managed quality control and analytical workflows throughout her career in environmental, health and safety testing, she founded Trichome Analytical in 2018.
Third-party testing is not unique to the cannabis industry—it exists in a variety of industries, including environmental, consumer products, food and beverage, cosmetics, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical. Independent laboratories lend credibility to consumer products and help ensure public health and safety, from car seats to cannabis products.
ISO 17025 laboratories are accredited to an international standard that values, in addition to analytical integrity and measurement traceability, impartiality and confidentiality. It is a requirement that laboratory owners cannot own other businesses in the supply chain that they service and must address any potential conflicts of interest. Additionally, lab staff should be trained on data integrity and commit to a well-defined laboratory code of ethics. It’s incredibly important that laboratories remain fair and neutral, providing accurate data without bias.
By providing an impartial third-party’s confirmation that a product is within regulatory specifications, these labs support and elevate high-quality brands while weeding out bad players that may sacrifice quality for quantity. Initiating a robust quality management system within facilities—working with a laboratory along the way—allows retailers, cultivators, processors and manufacturers to identify, prevent and remediate potential issues before they disrupt supply chains—or sink new brands and products through costly, brand-damaging recalls.
Analytical testing confirms potency (of levels of cannabinoids and terpenes) and identifies potentially hazardous contaminants before products go to market. This helps protect the health and safety of consumers, and it serves to protect brands as well, regardless of specialty:
- For retailers in the hemp industry, testing can prevent illicit market delta-9 products—under the guise of delta-8—from making their way onto shelves and getting seized by authorities.
- For infused products manufacturers, testing helps ensure consistent dosing throughout production runs.
- For processors, testing can prevent a pesticide-laden batch of biomass from contaminating extraction equipment.
- For cultivators, testing can track changes in cultivation cycles to help tweak growing conditions and get the most out of their cultivars.
While cannabis is used medicinally, it is first and foremost an agricultural product, and as such has a higher chance of natural contamination than other medical products. Cannabis compliance testing covers not only potency analysis, but also contaminant analysis. This includes pesticides, heavy metals, microbes, foreign matter, mycotoxins and water activity. All of these testing measures are critically important when it comes to assessing the safety of cannabis products.
DAN JENSEN, Supreme Security Systems
Security — What’s required for your operation
Dan Jensen is the head of cannabis security for Supreme Security Systems, and founder of Code 3 Outreach, an education and PTSD platform for those who serve.
Security is paramount in obtaining and maintaining licensure in the cannabis industry.
Your product and day-to-day operations determine your success, and making your operations easier is what we do best. With the new regulations released for the adult-use market we are well versed in the contents for the expected security guidelines and strive to exceed these standards.
Protecting your customers, staff, and your investment is what security is all about. With that in mind, your new facility will need everything from Burglary, Access Control, CCTV, and Fire Alarm systems.
Finding a security provider is not very difficult, however finding a cannabis professional specializing in this space can be. You may ask yourself, “What is the difference?” We are the answer:
Supreme Security Systems is the oldest and largest privately owned security company in New Jersey. Founded in 1929, and still family-owned and operated today, we have exceeded standards in every aspect of the business. The Central Station is the life-line of your security and here at Supreme Security, we are the only company in New Jersey who owns and operates their own Central Station.
By the way, Supreme Security has won multiple accreditations and is ranked in the Top 200 in the country.
We’ve been in the cannabis space since 2018. We’ve outfitted five locations in New Jersey from retail to cultivation — think of a dispensary, and we’ve probably serviced them. I also want you to know that at Supreme Security, we believe in this industry — it’s not just the dollars and cents. I’ve seen how cannabis has improved lives through its medicinal value and why it’s important to have the best product.
So I’ll leave you with this: Can the components of your security system possibly decrease the quality of your product? In short, yes. We give the ability to integrate all of your systems from one location and utilize technology that will not affect your bottom line: your product.
At our CannaTalk session this week, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cannabis security aspects. See me there, or look us up.
HUGH GIORDANO, UCFW
Labor — Building tomorrow’s workforce today
Hugh Giordano, union representative and organizer for UFCW Local 152 — a national Labor Union that represents cannabis workers — has been a local and consistent fixture in the cannabis space when it comes to speaking on worker’s rights.
Careers that come with a living wage, healthcare, dental, vision, vacation days, sick days, holiday pay, retirement plans, training, education, and of course a safe and secure workplace that has advancement and an opportunity to reach the middle class.
These types of labor standards are important from the get-go, specifically through Labor Peace Agreements and negotiating a collective bargaining agreement “Union contract.”
Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) requirements within the application process and how these agreements are more than just unionizing.
Signing an LPA not only allows your workers the opportunity to have UFCW representation, it gives you as employers, the opportunity to espouse your stance of social equity and economic justice.
A labor/industry partnership within cannabis opens doors for economic development and stability within the Industry.
The UFCW is working directly with multi-state operators and micro licensees who want to provide quality and affordable healthcare, dental, vision, and retirement plans along with other benefits. Because of these partnerships, workers gained better quality of life which leads to less turn over, consistency in product, and an overall more loyal workforce to a banner.
The bottomline is an increased workforce creates strong communities because there will be unionized careers in cannabis, seed to sale.
As a labor union representative, it is my goal to make sure that when these talented and loyal employees enter the cannabis market, that on Day 1, they are treated with dignity and respect.
The benefits that come from a well respected workforce will be not only economic development and success for the employers, due to a low turnover and a loyal workforce; but will also benefit the host community and local communities.
When working people make money, they spend it. This creates economic development and benefits working class communities.
ROB MEJIA, Stockton University
Education — Training the future workforce
Rob Mejia is an adjunct professor at Stockton University in the Cannabis Studies Department, president of cannabis education company Our Community Harvest, and author of “The Essential Cannabis Book” and “The Essential Cannabis Journal.”
For my CannaTalk, I will give a presentation on developing the cannabis workforce, focusing on four main initiatives that Stockton is implementing.
First, enrolled Stockton students can pursue any major and can enhance that major by adding a cannabis minor. The cannabis minor consists of five courses including a cannabis internship. Companies that are seeking knowledgeable, motivated cannabis interns should connect with us to enroll in Handshake, an electronic program which matches companies with interns.
Second, for adults who are not students at Stockton, there is a Continuing Studies suite of cannabis courses that lead to a cannabis certificate. Adults can take a single course- such as cultivation- or can take six courses including the newly released Social Justice and Cannabis class. In addition, these courses are fully online, self-paced, and include assessment.
Third, Stockton University offers free quarterly cannabis education panels and community events. Our first event was called “Cannabis Hospitality and Tourism” and was offered in March 2021. We later had a summer event covering Cannabis 101 topics, followed by our fall panel dissecting the New Jersey adult-use cannabis regulations. For our Dec. 1 event, we turn our attention to the hemp industry.
These events are always free, feature knowledgeable panelists, and will continue to be offered on a quarterly basis. Suggestions for future panels are welcome.
To further engage the community, fall and spring cannabis career and education events are held in person, on campus. This fall, please plan to sponsor, exhibit, or attend our fall career fair & business expo event on Wednesday, Nov. 17. Stockton University is collaborating with NJ Cannabis Insider and the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association to produce a stellar event.
Finally, last April, Stockton University established a Cannabis & Hemp Research Initiative (CHRIS) whose main goals are to:
- Acquire a hemp cultivation and research license
- Research hemp genetics and cultivation techniques and to share this information widely
- Host quarterly cannabis and/or hemp panels
- Establish a stand-alone testing laboratory
- Engage with, educate, and train members of the post prison population who want to work in hemp or cannabis cultivation
- Partner with hemp and cannabis companies who want to conduct non-medical research
We invite hemp and cannabis companies to reach out to discuss ways to support and collaborate with Stockton University.
Career Fair & Business Expo: Nov. 17
Join us for a full day Career Fair & Business Expo in association with NJ Cannabis Insider, New Jersey CannaBusiness Association and Stockton University.
This program will help individuals break into this emerging industry by connecting them to decision makers at top companies that are hiring now. You’ll also learn valuable information from policymakers and business leaders, and have the opportunity to network with industry professionals.
As part of the program, attendees will have the opportunity to take a professional headshot photo for LinkedIn or other use.
Panel topics and participating companies to be announced soon.
Students: $20 | Industry professionals: $100.
NJ Cannabis Insider subscribers should use discount code INSIDER at checkout for $15 off.
We are looking for proposals for sponsorships and panels. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Enrique Lavin or Kristen Ligas.
Star-Ledger file photo
Legal weed businesses would get credit cards, checking accounts under new defense bill
Legislation allowing banks to offer credit cards, checking accounts and other financial services to legal marijuana businesses was added to a bill setting defense policy for the next 12 months.
The action increases the chance of the Secure and Fair Enforcement, or SAFE, Banking Act, becoming law because the defense legislation, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, is one of those measures that Congress invariably passes every year in order to shape federal defense policy and ensure that local facilities such as Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst get their share of Pentagon spending.
The banking bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., won unanimous approval when he proposed amending the NDAA to include his legislation. With House passage of the defense bill expected later this week, that assures that the cannabis banking issue will be on the table when lawmakers of both houses craft the final legislation.
“There is undoubtedly a national security element to this issue, as we see when organized syndicates target cannabis businesses,” said Steven Hawkins, chief executive of the U.S. Cannabis Council.
When the Democratic-controlled House first passed the legislation in September 2019 on a bipartisan vote, it marked the first time either chamber of Congress had approved a pro-marijuana measure. House Democrats also inserted the provision in two trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bills in 2020.
The Senate, then under Republican control, never considered the bill.
The House most recently approved the legislation in April, but the Senate, now with a Democratic majority, still has not debated the measure.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker have been working on a larger bill that would end the ban on cannabis, thus allowing banks to provide financial services without running afoul of federal law, as well as expunge marijuana convictions and help communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs.
“It is critical to balance the need to accomplish comprehensive reform at the federal level and make every effort possible in the immediate term to support the successful state-level programs to ensure safe and efficient consumer access to quality cannabis that is cost-competitive with the unregulated market,” said Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
“For those reasons, we support the inclusion of the SAFE Banking Act in any piece of legislation that is going to be enacted into law.”
While New Jersey and 17 other states have legalized cannabis for both medical and recreational use, companies producing or selling weed still must conduct their businesses largely in cash as federally regulated banks worry that they could run afoul of federal law banning marijuana if they provide financial services.
“Forcing legitimate, well-regulated cannabis businesses to conduct most of their business in cash is anachronistic and a clear threat to public safety,” Hawkins said.
— Jonathan Salant | NJ.com
Canva.com stock photo
NJ Cannabis Insider has spent the past few months tracking ordinances passed by municipalities across the Garden State. We have monitored press releases, municipal ordinances, news stories and cross-referenced the list with others to compile a full report.
Our Towns Database is updated periodically as we learn about changes made by municipalities.
While residents in all but three municipalities voted to legalize cannabis last November, far more local councils have put on the brakes. At least 280 local governments (about half in the state) have passed ordinances banning cannabis sales or have shown they are inclined to do so.
To purchase a copy of the living document, follow this link. Subscribers should use discount code SUBSCRIBER for 20% off the $2,000 listed price.
Jelani Gibson is the lead reporter for Cannabis Insider. He previously covered gun violence for the Kansas City Star.
Amanda Hoover is a reporter covering the cannabis industry for NJ.com and The Star-Ledger. She previously covered crime and courts across New Jersey.
Susan K. Livio is a Statehouse reporter for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com who covers health, social policy and politics
Jonathan D. Salant is Washington correspondent for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com.
To access the archives for issues 0-152, use this passcode: more-njci