promoted by Rosi
The most recent renditions of the upcoming marijuana legalization bill include many things that I like. The best, by far, is the stipulation which seeks to give preference to applicants whose businesses are located in impact zones, “where past criminal marijuana enterprises contributed to higher concentrations of law enforcement activity, unemployment, and poverty”.
Such an impact zone must have a population of 120,000 or more, or, as detailed by NJ.com, must have a high crime index as measured by the State Police, or, have an annual unemployment rate of 15 percent and rank in the top 33 percent for marijuana related arrests.
Camden is disqualified from this preference by population(77,000), and, unemployment rate(7.9%). It is currently not known if the high crime index, or, the marijuana-related arrests stipulations will favor Camden to receive these preferences.
As versions of this bill are still getting ironed out ahead of next week, a tweak must happen to ensure that the City of Camden, once the most violent and poorest in the nation, gets first dibs on benefiting from the economic benefits of a legal marijuana market.
Lawmakers might consider the following, in addition to their ideas:
Preference would be given if:
-The business is located in a municipality that receives more than $100,000,000 in municipal state aid per year
-The business is located in a municipality that receives more than $175,000,000 in educational state aid per year
-The business is located in a municipality which borders larger regional populations (hello, $Philadelphia$)
-The business is located in a municipality which contains correctional facilities
-The business is located in a municipality with X percentage of square feet of brown field sites.
-The business is located within a Federal Promise Zone.
Take your pick. Camden City needs to have this policy crafted to benefit the city. The currently proposed stipulations are good, because priority benefits of this new economy need to go to the communities that have previously suffered from the wrongful illegal classification of marijuana.
We need to think about Camden’s chance at “first dibs” from an economic perspective, too. This new tax should be crafted in a way which helps struggling municipal governments lessen their reliance on Trenton’s aid. As it currently seems to be written, Camden could be left out from accessing these benefits, especially as certain qualifying parameters have improved. Preferences should not weigh almost exclusively to North Jersey, with Atlantic City being the outlier.
P.S. The recent investments in to Camden have been rather top heavy. No matter where you are, I think we can agree on that. Implementing a policy mechanism to ensure that a middle-class benefit reaches Camden is desperately needed. Let’s make it so Camden is the only place in the Philadelphia Metropolitan to legally buy marijuana, and capitalize on that tax revenue, locally.
P.S.S. It might be illegal to carry marijuana beyond state lines, but honestly, how much longer is it going to be before Pennsylvania legalizes, too? And, Philadelphia decriminalized the possession of marijuana years ago under Mayor Michael Nutter. It could be as bad as a traffic ticket, from what I understand… So, let’s not worry about those finer details.
Brian K. Everett seldom contributes to the talk of NJ Politics, but when he does, it is likely to argue for better policy.