Since the cannabis industry first opened up in Colorado in 2014, two years after passing Amendment 64 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, people have been watching closely to see how things go. For lawmakers in other states, it has been a way for them to learn about what potential benefits may come from legalization – and it has helped some to come to the decision that it is time to implement laws like the ones in Colorado in their own state.
Officials from around the country – but most notably from the eastern side of the country – have been going on “fact-finding” missions to Colorado over the last couple of years to see the industry first hand. Just a week or so ago, a couple of Republican lawmakers from Tennessee took to Colorado to learn about their medical marijuana industry. This week, Senator Nick Scutari will be taking his second trip to Colorado, this time with the company of two other senators and six assemblymen, in hopes of opening some minds about what the cannabis industry really is – a legitimate and quickly expanding opportunity that they don’t want to miss out on.
“The legislators need to be educated on the process and I think that the people that are out there are going to come back with an entirely different view of what this industry is all about,” he said. “I hope it’s all positive, but they’re open to ask negative questions. They’re open to look for the negative aspects of it and make their own decisions.”
Scutari has already seen Colorado’s industry first hand when he visited the state in June – and with the recent introduction of two different pieces of legislation that would legalize and regulate marijuana in New Jersey, it is the perfect time to ensure legislators are properly educated on the subject. There really is no better way to learn than to see something for yourself, so these “fact-finding missions” are perfect, giving them a chance to talk to lawmakers, industry officials and tour the shops for themselves.
“And it will take (away) kind of the fear of what we’re talking about,” he said. “And we also want to take (away) the joke about it, because they have a real business industry out there. This is not a joke. This is not a laughing matter. This is big money. And it also is great savings to the state.”
Unfortunately even if current legislation passes, it will be a difficult win as their current Governor, Chris Christie, has sworn to veto any legalization efforts that may reach his desk. On the bright side, this will be Christie’s last year in office, with a new Governor taking over in January 2018 – so if they lawmakers can spend this year working out the details of a piece of legislation to legalize marijuana, one that they can all (for the most part) agree on, then perhaps the next governor will be ready to sign such a bill when they take over. For now, this is a great start – and in all honesty, legislators from each state should consider visiting Colorado, Washington or Oregon, to see what a legal cannabis industry really looks like, before making any harsh decisions on the matter.