Medical cannabis dispensaries form trade group ahead of legal weed referendum –

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New Jersey’s 12 licensed medical cannabis companies have formed a trade association ahead of an election that will likely lead the state to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older.

The group, the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association, announced its formation Thursday, marking one of the first times the alternative treatment centers have come together publicly. They signed a joint statement in March calling for online ordering for patients amid the coronavirus outbreak and also called on the state Department of Health to allow home delivery for patients.

The trade association emerged from that collaboration, said Susanna Short, an industry consultant to played a major role in wrangling the dispensaries.

“It took us awhile, and we had a pandemic, had a lot going on. It now is an official, formal trade association,” she said. “Certainly legalization is part of what’s bringing us together at this time and in this way.”

The group plans to focus on expanding and preserving the medical marijuana program, which currently serves 90,000 patients. But it also hopes to shape an approach to a legal marijuana industry.

If voters say yes to a ballot question seeking to legalize marijuana, the existing medical dispensaries will likely be among the first to sell it. That can only happen once lawmakers pass a bill outlining the rules and regulations for the industry.

“It would extend beyond the enabling legislation,” Short said of the association. “There’s always a need to make sure that policies work in practice. One of the driving forces behind getting this group together was to have a unified voice among the operators, to have a voice to help develop policies

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