Former Speaker of the House John Boehner's cannabis firm is planning to dramatically expand New Jersey's medical marijuana industry, a signal of the country's gradual but steadily growing acceptance of cannabis. Acreage Holdings, a New York-based cannabis firm operating dispensaries as well as cultivation and processing operations in 11 states, has announced a partnership with Compassionate Care Foundation, a south Jersey medical cannabis dispensary, to break ground on a new cultivation facility.
In one of his first acts in office, Governor Phil Murphy made moves to expand the state's restrictive medical cannabis program. Over the past two months, the state has extended the list of qualifying conditions, cut fees for patients, and allowed existing dispensaries to apply to upsize their facilities. These expansions have paved the way for Compassionate Care to partner with Acreage in order to grow more product for the state's increasing number of patients.
"Governor Murphy's decision to expand the medical marijuana program in New Jersey should be applauded as the first step towards a well-regulated and effective cannabis program," Kevin Murphy, founder and CEO of Acreage Holdings, said in a statement. "The potential to help people who are facing serious health issues, as well as create revenue opportunities for the state, is truly a 'win-win' and we are pleased to have this opportunity to grow our presence there."
Compassionate Care Foundation (CCF) signed a letter of intent to enter into a management contract with Acreage. Together, the two companies have selected a 100,000 square-foot building in Sewell, which they intend to develop into a mammoth cultivation facility. "We are excited about this new partnership with a company that understands the vital importance of making medicinal marijuana available to the New Jerseyans who desperately need this option to address their conditions," said David Knowlton, CCF founder and president.
Even a few years ago, the idea of either John Boehner or New Jersey being on board with legal weed seemed unlikely. A decade ago, Boehner was "unalterably opposed" to legalization, and worked to strike down any legislative attempts at cannabis reform during his terms as Speaker of the House. Last month, Boehner made the surprise announcement that he had joined Acreage in an advisory capacity, explaining that, like many Americans, he had finally come around to the prospect of legal weed.
New Jersey itself is currently making a similar transition towards legal cannabis. For the past eight years, the Garden State was under the sway of former Governor Chris Christie, one of the country's most vociferous opponents of cannabis reform. Now, in addition to expanding the state's medical cannabis laws, Gov. Murphy is also fighting to legalize recreational weed this year. The governor is still facing resistance from local politicians, but recent polls have found that 59% of the state's voters are in favor of legal pot.