Written Testimony Before the New Jersey State Legislature Senate Judiciary Committee
Public testimony concerning the implementation of Public Question No. 1, involving the legalization cannabis for personal, non-medical use by adults age 21 years or older and creation of a legalized cannabis marketplace overseen by the States’ Cannabis Regulatory Commission
By: New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA)
Good day, Chairperson Scutari and distinguished committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to submit comment today on the implementation of personal, non-medical use of cannabis by adults age 21 or older and creation of a legalized cannabis marketplace in New Jersey.
As the Committee may already be aware, the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program’s twelve permitted Alternative Treatment Center (“ATC”) operators have aligned to form the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association (“NJCTA”). On behalf of our association and its membership, NJCTA would like to first express its gratitude for the opportunity to operate in New Jersey’s regulated cannabis market. We look forward to serving as a resource to the State as it navigates the complex process of transitioning its medical cannabis-only program to one that includes adult use.
As an organization, our primary goal is to ensure New Jersey’s 92,000 existing patients maintain adequate and affordable access to the medicine on which they rely. We hope the Committee and State’s legislators and regulators keep these patients top of mind as part of a thoughtful and measured roll-out of the adult use program. While this may not result in the immediate sale of adult use cannabis, we feel this more prudent approach is in the best interest of the patient population and the overall health of New Jersey’s cannabis program.
Having witnessed and participated in the implementation of an adult use cannabis market in other states, our collective membership feels there are a few crucial steps that need to be taken to maintain a vibrant medical program. Those measures include the elimination of the sales tax for medical patients, as well as the ability for medical cannabis dispensaries to co-locate with adult use dispensaries. In addition, we support the broader allowance of telemedicine, which has become a crucial method for patients to consult with medical practitioners, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, this will provide patients, many of whom face immunodeficiencies, with appropriate access to the State’s medical cannabis program.
Additionally, NJCTA priorities will include the implementation of a balanced tax rate that can reasonably compete with illicit market prices, and the identification of approaches to support and contribute to New Jersey’s social justice efforts in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
The proposed 6.65% state sales tax on adult-use cannabis in addition to a maximum 2% municipal tax fits this criterion and provides current and future New Jersey cannabis operators the opportunity to reasonably compete with the illicit market. Many states have set higher tax rates when implementing their cannabis marketplaces only to see the illicit markets remain entrenched, leading to state tax revenue falling short of projections.
From a social justice standpoint, we implore New Jersey legislators to implement clemency and record expungements for all non-violent cannabis offenders. Separately, we support the elimination or significant reduction of licensing fees for social equity licensed operators, giving those businesses a great foothold in a competitive cannabis marketplace. With the legalization and implementation of adult use cannabis in New Jersey, we now have the opportunity to begin to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs, especially as it relates to disproportionally targeted communities. As a State, we should not pass up that opportunity.
Once again, we look forward to serving as a resource for the Committee and State legislators and regulators throughout the implementation process. Many of our members have seen the successes and pitfalls in other states and we look forward to bringing together our collective experience to help make New Jersey’s cannabis program a model for the rest of the nation.
 Chappell, B. (2019, August 23). California Says Its Cannabis Revenue Has Fallen Short Of Estimates, Despite Gains. Retrieved November 08, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/2019/08/23/753791322/california-says-its-cannabis-revenue-has-fallen-short-of-estimates-despite-gains