Nearly 150 people squeezed into a meeting room at the Statehouse in Trenton as the state officially opened the conversation on marijuana legalization.
More than a dozen advocates and lobbyists spoke in favor of legal weed, while a handful of others told the committee why recreational cannabis should be kept away from New Jersey.
Despite the opposing testimony, several common themes emerged at Monday hearing. Above all, marijuana legalization would have a major impact on the state. Here are six of the biggest takeaways from the hearing — the first of likely many to come.
1. All eyes are on New Jersey
People traveled far and wide to testify at the hearing on Monday. Rep. Dan Pabon, a Colorado state lawmaker, spoke to the committee, as did a Las Vegas police officer. Two people who helped craft marijuana policy in Massachusetts also testified. They were invited by the New Jersey Assembly’s Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee.
Why would these people come to Trenton for a hearing not geared toward any specific piece of legislation? The answer was best summed up by Bill Caruso, an attorney with Archer Law in New Jersey and a pro-marijuana lobbyist.
“Jersey sits in the middle of phenomenal wealth, phenomenal population centers and phenomenal transportation systems,” Caruso said, talking about the potential of a New Jersey marijuana industry.