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NJ Governor Teams Up with U.S. Cannabis Council for “Buy Legal” Campaign, New York Officials Select Former NBA Star to Manage Cannabis Fund, and Hawaii Continues to Examine the Benefits of Cannabis Legalization

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NJ Governor Teams Up with U.S. Cannabis Council for “Buy Legal” Campaign

The governor of New Jersey and the U.S. Cannabis Council have partnered to educate consumers about the pitfalls of purchasing marijuana outside the legally regulated market. The launch of the “Buy Legal” campaign was announced at the Black CannaBiz Expo in New Orleans. Companies participating in the effort include Canopy Growth, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, and Wana, among others. In a press release, New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy announced his support of the Buy Legal campaign. As his state continues to work to refine the rules and regulations surrounding its legal cannabis market, the governor said he is aware that New Jersey isn’t immune to a persistent black market for cannabis sales. But Murphy stressed the importance of purchasing from the regulated market for the benefit of the licensed businesses as well as the safety of consumers. The campaign will promote a “Buy Legal” label for products that meet the standards set forth by the coalition. 

New York Officials Select Former NBA Star to Manage Cannabis Fund

Despite what some see as a potential conflict of interest, New York cannabis regulators appointed former NBA Hall of Fame player Chris Webber and his business partner Lavetta Willis to manage a state cannabis fund. Webber and Willis are said to have “strong financial ties” to the cannabis brand Cookies. The fund the duo will be responsible for managing is meant to assist social equity businesses in New York’s legal cannabis market. According to The (Syracuse) Post-Standard’s NY Cannabis Insider, appointing Webber and Willis to this role is a concern as they will essentially be raising and providing funds to retail dispensaries that Cookies could compete with. The first 150 of New York’s retail cannabis dispensaries will be locations that are built out for the business owners and leased to them from the state’s Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund. The fund is expected to provide $200 million to these social equity businesses, with $50 million coming from New York state and the rest to be raised from investors.  

Hawaii Continues to Examine the Benefits of Cannabis Legalization

Lawmakers in Hawaii have been debating the pros and cons of cannabis legalization for some time. Currently, recreational cannabis use is illegal in the state, but possession of three grams or less of the plant is decriminalized. Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000 via the state legislature, making them the first state to do so. They officially launched legal medical marijuana sales in 2017. In the last fiscal year, the medical cannabis industry generated $2.5 million in tax revenue for the state. Now, the state department released a report projecting that cannabis legalization would raise approximately $50 million in tax revenue. This report is compelling evidence as Hawaii’s Legislature has been examining different proposals for adult-use cannabis legalization.