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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Event Recap: Cannabis Symposium at Felician University

by Kim Bogosian

Photos Courtesy of Maria Begg-Roberson

From Left: Captain Patrick Feliciano, Will Jones III, Dr. James Salwitz, Mayor Colleen Mahr, Hugh O'Beirne

On Tuesday, September 3rd, Rutherford Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson and Assemblyman Gary Schaer presented an evening entitled "Are Cannabis Businesses The Right Fit for Legislative District 36?" at Felician University.

Approximately 75 people were in attendance at Felician's Bramucci Unity Hall on Montross Ave to listen to a panel of 5 discuss the implications of legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana.

The audience in Bramucci Unity Hall

The panel was comprised of 5 experts of different backgrounds:

Patrick Feliciano - Rutherford Police Department Captain and Executive Officers of the RPD Patrol Division/Internal Affairs/Training Unit

Will Jones III - Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Communications and Outreach Associate

Hugh O'Beirne - President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association

Dr. James C. Salwitz - President, Medical Staff Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Oncology, Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Mayor Coleen Mahr - Mayor of Fanwood, NJ and President of the NJ League of Municipalities

Each panelist brought their own experiences and insight about cannabis use to the discussion, which was not intended to be a debate of any kind, but rather a synopsis of New Jersey's current legislative and regulatory status regarding the drug. Panelists discussed a broad range of topics, such as: general policymaking, measures police departments take to work with local dispensaries, how minorities are disproportionately affected by legal drugs (such as alcohol and tobacco) and how legalized marijuana could further impact minority communities negatively.

The pros and cons of both medicinal and recreational cannabis were discussed as well as Jake Honig's Law, which was signed into law this past July and greatly expands access to medicinal marijuana in New Jersey. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana stalled in the NJ State senate earlier this year and may result in a referendum in 2020, allowing the people of New Jersey to vote directly on whether or not to legalize it for recreational use.

Back Row: Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese, Will Jones III, Hugh O'Beirne, Captain Patrick Feliciano; Front Row Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Mayor Colleen Mahr, Dr. James Salwitz, Councilwoman Maria Begg-Roberson

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