Meet The Man Working To Unite New Jersey's Cannabis Industry

This article by Gregory Frye was originally published on The Bluntness, and appears here with permission.

When New Jersey voters approved adult-use cannabis on November 3, 2020, it was a pivotal moment in the history of cannabis reform.

Now, the challenge is to establish a responsible and sustainable industry, which will hopefully serve as a shining example for other cannabis markets.

One of the people at the center of this challenge is Edmund DeVeaux, the new president of the New Jersey Cannabis Business Association (NJCBA).

The Bluntness recently sat down with DeVeaux to discover his values and vision in helping lead NJ’s cannabis industry to great heights.

Building a Responsible & Sustainable Industry

DeVeaux, who has been a part of NJCBA since its inception, got involved with cannabis for one reason: to make sure it was done right – responsibly and sustainably.

Now that cannabis has been legitimized as a business in New Jersey – what does a responsible and sustainable industry look like? As president of the cannabis chamber of commerce in the state, the question is front and center in DeVeaux’s focus.

The answer to this question involves a lot of moving pieces for DeVeaux: addressing the issues of social justice and social equity, educating stakeholders from other sectors such as law enforcement and doctors, creating a free-market model where local cannabis entrepreneurs can thrive, and protecting the local flavor of the state’s supply chain from predatory lending and outside interests.

It’s a lot of work that must be done, and New Jersey is just getting started.

Social Justice and Social Equity Issues

Because the war on cannabis tragically and disproportionately impacted so many lives in so many different ways, addressing these wrongs is a critical component in moving forward with a legalized industry.

With social equity measures baked into New Jersey’s new adult-use cannabis legislation bill, it seems the state’s policymakers, whom DeVeaux lobbies and advises, are quite sensitive to this on-going concern.

And while legislation is never perfect, it does provide an opportunity on which to build and evolve.

For DeVeaux, the damage caused by cannabis prohibition is heartbreaking when you look back at the harmful consequences and lost opportunities.

“What if we knew then what we know now? What if we knew then that investment in the industrial prison complex nets you zero profit and zero gain?” DeVeaux says, emphasizing that an overloaded criminal justice system sucks local and state government budgets dry. 

“What if we knew then, what we know now? That properly measured doses of cannabis – THC and CBD – actually help combat maladies and diseases like cancer, HIV/AIDS, MS, ADHD, seizure disorders…” DeVeaux notes.

“What if we knew then what we know now, that we could have had a multi-billion-dollar cannabis and hemp industry in place, but we squandered that opportunity from the ‘30s on forward?”

Now we do know all of that. And to DeVeaux’s mind, it’s the NJCBA’s responsibility to help …

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