State Regulators Take Big Slice of Marijuana Market | Mulshine


It has been almost a year since New Jersey voters passed a “constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana” by a 2-1 margin because it was misleadingly labeled.

This was misleading because the title would make you think that once the amendment is passed you might be able to go to the local pottery store and buy “Alice B. Toklas brownies”.

It was the name of the first form of edible marijuana that most Americans had ever heard of.

Toklas was writer Gertrude Stein’s confidant on the Parisian scene in the 1920s. She wrote a book in which she included the recipe for a sort of chocolate fondant mixed with cannabis.

“It could provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a DAR chapter reunion,” Toklas wrote. “Euphoria and bursting laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of his personality on several planes simultaneously are to be expected with complacency.”

Not in New Jersey. As we approach the first anniversary of the passage of this amendment, the new bureaucracy called “The Cannabis Regulatory Commission” has yet to accomplish the simple task of legalizing marijuana.

But the CRC has one major achievement: It has banned the sale of any “food-like” marijuana product. The only acceptable edibles will be the lozenges.

The regulations exclude the brownies, cookies and chocolate bars that are so popular with patrons of the NJ Weedman jar restaurant / dispensary on State Street in Trenton.

The Weedman, also known as Ed Forchion, runs what you might call a “free market” dispensary. So far, the powers that be have let his business run, possibly because it’s the only thriving business on this stretch of State Street.

Forchion asks for a license. But if he gets one, he’ll have to stop selling some of the more popular products in his store.

“Women buy edibles,” he said. “Women don’t want to smoke in public, so they have a cookie in their purse and then put it in every now and then and eat it. “

As for men, male marijuana users I know like nothing more than a big bone, if I may use the lingo.

But cities across the state are stepping up their anti-smoking ordinances to deal with cannabis smokers. So why ban the type of marijuana that doesn’t produce vapors?

Evan Nison of the New Jersey chapter of the National Marijuana Law Reform Organization (NORML) said it was counterproductive.

“Edibles are important for many reasons,” Nison said. “There are people who don’t want to put something in their lungs. There are owners who do not allow smoking at all. It’s definitely an important category.

The CRC media people did not respond to my request for comment, so I don’t know their opinion. But Nison said regulators felt the need to regulate the kitchens where edibles are made.

Weedman said it was an insult to the people who make the edibles.

“Women dominate the edible field,” he said. “All these little local edible places are all run by women.”

He sells a lot of their products and none of his customers report any problems, he said. But if he has to stop selling these edibles, then many of his customers will go back to the black market, he said.

This market is booming at the moment. Across the state, entrepreneurs sell marijuana products, often with home delivery.

“You buy seemingly overpriced items like cookies, hoodies, hats or stickers and the driver can personally choose to give you the weed as well or withhold it if you look minor or sketchy,” commented on an internet reviewer.

Then there are the entrepreneurs who followed in Weedman’s footsteps and opened dispensaries. Last week, the Bergen County District Attorney’s Office raided a dispensary in Garfield. Four people were arrested and charged with crimes ranging from money laundering to maintaining a drug production facility.

Well, someone has to do it. And the state is clearly not up to the task. Last week, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission missed a deadline to start accepting new business license applications.

It wasn’t much of a shock. The state has yet to process the medical marijuana license applications that were accepted in 2019.

The issue of edibles can be minor in all things. But the need to pursue social justice has been an important topic during legislative hearings on legalization.

Regarding social justice, “The black market for edibles is going to expand and it will be a black market run by women.”

It’s a kind of social justice. But if I can deduce the flaw in the reasoning of the regulators here, it’s obvious:

The way to make something legal is to stop making it illegal.

The voters seemed to have understood this.

But once regulators start to regulate, they just can’t seem to stop.

(Follow me as Paul Mulshine on Facebook and @mulshine on Twitter)

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