In an era of weed-firsts, New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy just became the first elected official to straight up ask Americans to buy legal weed.
Murphy is also the first elected official to join a legalization campaign led by the US Cannabis Coalition and several marijuana industry trade groups. The groups’ campaign, “Buy Legal,” is urging Americans to only purchase legal, licensed cannabis in a nationwide effort to stamp out the illicit weed market.
“Like many other products, cannabis is not immune to the persistent illegal market, which poses a serious risk to consumers,” Murphy said, according to NJ.com. “This campaign will help protect the ability of local, regulated cannabis enterprises to continue to do business in a way that is safe and accountable, and protect the safety of consumers while reinvesting in communities.”
Murphy was one of New Jersey’s most vocal and influential legalization supporters. The state officially legalized cannabis in February 2021, with Murphy himself signing the legalization bill into law.
The state launched legal adult-use sales on April 21, 2022, the day after the stoner holiday of April 20. Yet despite the post-holiday handicap, the state sold nearly $2 million worth of weed its first day. By the first month of sales, the state topped $24 million.
But why do we need a campaign to promote legal, licensed weed when the plant practically sells itself?
One of the main reasons, according to the campaign, is public safety.
“Cannabis consumers need to understand where they can buy high-quality, safe, and tested cannabis products, and minority cannabis-businesses owners deserve the resources that a national campaign like this can provide in order to encourage customers to shop at their businesses,” said Khadijah Tribble, according to NJ.com. Besides serving as chief executive of the US Cannabis Council, Tribble is also the senior vice president Curaleaf, one of the nation’s largest retail weed companies, as well as the largest operator in New Jersey.
But Tribble touched on something else, which is another reason why Americans should consider switching from black market weed to legal businesses: Supporting minority-owned businesses.
“To truly create equitable opportunities for generational wealth in our community, things like this must be done,” said New Jersey-born NBA legend Al Harrington. Today, Harrington runs Viola Brands, a licensed cannabis company.
“Now more than ever it’s imperative to educate consumers on the importance of buying regulated, safe products,” Harrington continued.
For decades, cannabis activists and advocates have highlighted racial bias in anti-cannabis policing as a major reason to legalize the plant. Yet the industry has been dominated by wealthy Caucasian owners and investors.
So, if you truly want to reverse some of the damage caused by the War on Drugs, simply voting to legalize weed isn’t enough. You need to be supporting Black- and Brown-owned businesses, too.
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