Let’s legalize cannabis the right way

Dear Editor:

After my mother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1991, I did some research and discovered cannabis could be an effective treatment to alleviate her pain. This personal experience eventually led me to a career managing medical cannabis dispensaries in Colorado and California, before returning to my hometown of Hoboken in 2018 to open a CBD business.

Throughout my time working in this industry, I rarely saw someone who looked like me in a leadership position at a cannabis business. As a person of color, I am proud to share what I’ve learned and help others like me build successful businesses.

That is why I believe that cannabis legalization efforts should not be separated from comprehensive reform policies that ensure opportunities for those unfairly impacted by the failed “war on drugs.” We have a responsibility to ensure that this emerging industry is both diverse and fair. Businesses like mine, owned and operated by people who look like me, need a clear path to obtaining a business license.

We also must ensure that people who need medical cannabis have safe, reliable and convenient access to it. Unfortunately, past cannabis laws in New Jersey have made it nearly impossible for patients to access their medicine. While I applaud both the state legislature and the governor for their work expanding the medical cannabis program, they need to be reminded that medical patients and social justice efforts remain at the forefront of implementing this new law.

A better functioning, legal cannabis industry has the potential to bring thousands of jobs to New Jersey and to alleviate pain and discomfort to thousands of medical patients. Let’s legalize cannabis the right way.

Vince Oliver