Much like marriage equality, legalizing cannabis is a learning process, leading lobbyist says –


EDITOR’S NOTE: On Nov. 20, NJ Cannabis Insider hosts a networking event in Atlantic City, featuring lawmakers and business leaders in the medical marijuana and legal cannabis industries. Tickets are limited.

Despite the initial fervor and enthusiasm after Gov. Phil Murphy’s election in 2017, efforts to legalize cannabis haven’t progressed as fast as many expected. But as the Legislature gears up again to discuss legalization in lame duck, according to Lynn Nowak, the executive vice president of Porzio Governmental Affairs, that’s often the case for big ticket progressive legislation.

“As I looked back at other pieces of social change legislation, such as abolishing the death penalty and marriage equality, there were basically 16 formal actions taken by the Legislature for marriage equality before it stopped moving forward subject to the court decision,” Nowak said. “There were about 20 formal actions for the death penalty. I’ve tallied up about 10 formal actions for cannabis so far.”

Even with a Democratic Legislature, she said, there’s a learning factor.

Nowak, who will be joining Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, at NJ Cannabis Insider’s meetup in Atlantic City on Nov. 20, said more recent polling showing where New Jersey residents stand with respect to cannabis would go a long way toward moving legislators forward.

There are a limited number of tickets available. For more information or to sign-up, look here for details.

“When’s the last poll we had on this?” she said. “February? That’s almost ancient. I think a public poll would be an enormous help in giving legislators comfort.”

This past February, a poll by Monmouth University found that about 62% of New Jersey adults support cannabis legalization.

Still, Nowak believes legislators will make an effort to push adult-use legalization through legislatively.

“The leadership in the Senate and Assembly is going to make a solid effort to get this through legislatively,” she said. “I think they’re also recognizing they want to have another option and if for some reason they can’t whip the votes together, there is another option to do the ballot question. I personally don’t like the ballot option, but it does give on the fence legislators some guidance.”

Nowak, along with Holley and Mukherji, will discuss legalization efforts and the state of the industry at NJ Cannabis Insider’s meetup on Nov. 20 at Rhythm & Spirits from 5 to 7 p.m.

Click here for more details and to purchase tickets.

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Justin Zaremba may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find on Facebook.

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