Issues that Impact Somers Point
Voting Against Legal Cannabis Sales is Voting YES to Unregulated, Illegal, and Dangerous Sales
Leafly, an organization that leads the world in research and writing about all aspects of cannabis, put out a report that is pertinent to Somers Point in September 2022 titled, “Leafly Report: ‘Opt-out’ towns are encouraging illegal marijuana sales.” The research included New Jersey’s newly legal cannabis sales. What this report found is that when municipalities opt out of legal cannabis sales, they are facilitating the unregulated, illegal, and dangerous sale of cannabis.
The illicit market doesn’t check IDs, so minors are able to access cannabis, where they would not in legal stores. Additionally, they are not testing for potency or purity, so are leaving purchasers and users at risk, even if they are adults who are allowed to use cannabis. FINALLY, they do not pay taxes.
From the report, “In New Jersey, where adult-use cannabis began earlier this year, 71 percent of local municipalities have opted out of legal sales. That has left the state’s adult consumers with few legal options. With only one store for every 358,000 residents, illegal street sellers command more than 80 percent of the Garden State’s marijuana market. ” Full report found here, https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/leafly-report-opt-out-towns-are-encouraging-illegal-marijuana-sales.
Somers Point’s own Economic Development Advisory Commission ran a survey of residents to determine their opinion on having a local dispensary. The majority of respondents were in favor of having a local dispensary to provide legal and safe sales. It makes sense because number one, people are buying cannabis anyway, they are just buying it illegally. It is not like the current City Council is keeping cannabis out of Somers Point. They are just making it more dangerous for residents that are legally allowed to consume cannabis. And, they are helping the illegal dealers keep their business up and running and are therefore facilitating access to minors.
The Leafly Report summarizes the situation as,
“Illicit products put public health at risk
In addition to unintentionally protecting their town’s illegal marijuana dealers, the report found that when local leaders opt out, they also:
- Indirectly encourage adult consumers to purchase illegal products
- Put public health at risk by allowing the circulation of untested products
- Sustain illegal sales to local teens
- Turn away local jobs and tax revenue
- Continue fighting a losing War on Drugs”
Due to this reporting, and potential tax income, I am in favor of having a legal dispensary in Somers Point as long as it is located in an appropriate area where zoning allows it, and it won’t disrupt residential properties. With the amount of shopping centers we have in town, there are multiple options. I am in favor of safe, responsible, regulation and thorough research into any business that would be considering opening a dispensary here.
Somers Point’s Economic Development Advisory Commission has been researching the topic of cannabis sales in the City since New Jersey voted for legal cannabis in November 2020. They have reached out to experienced professionals in the industry. Some of these professionals suggest that a 3500 square foot dispensary would bring in $3 Million in profits annually.
Since the New Jersey law allows for 2% of the profits to go directly to the municipality as tax income, Somers Point stands to make $60,000 annually from legal, and safe cannabis sales.
This is real money. Much more than the estimated $12,000 made from the first year of paid parking, which caused havoc in the Bay Area neighborhoods doing more harm than good by angering residents.
The current City Council is trying to instill fear into the community, saying that cannabis sales are unsafe. In reality, the research supports the opposite. Having a legal dispensary in Somers Point is something that should be carefully considered without the cloud of fear that has been brought upon it.