Send In The Power Players! Another New Jersey Marijuana Dispensary Hires A Prominent Lobbyist

Photo Credit: James MacDonald

New Jersey is shaping up to have a powerful cannabis base in the southern part of the state as a second medical marijuana dispensary has hired a prominent lobbying firm.

Curaleaf New Jersey in Bellmawr, a branch of the multi-state operator PalliaTech, recently became a client of Public Strategies Impact, spokeswoman Stephanie Semple confirmed.

Public Strategies Impact announced on Wednesday it had formed a strategic alliance with the law firm of Brach Eichler to help businesses participate in the emerging cannabis marketplace in New Jersey.

“‘Strategic Cannabis Solutions’ will form exclusive relationships with clients in order to advise, position, and advocate for them to successfully obtain state-required cannabis licenses,” the firms said in a joint news release.

“In light of the complicated and heavily regulated nature of New Jersey’s cannabis marketplace, Strategic Cannabis Solutions brings a forceful multidisciplinary team of experts to the table,” Public Strategies Impact Managing Partner Roger A. Bodman said.

“When the dust settles on all of the cannabis rules and regulations, we will advocate at every level of government to ensure our clients succeed in a highly competitive environment.”

The companies also said they expected the Department of Health to release new regulations on medical cannabis on or about June 18. State health department spokeswoman Donna Leusner said proposed rules would be published in the New Jersey Register on June 18,

Last month, Acreage Holdings, which has partnered with Compassionate Care Foundation in Egg Harbor Township to build a 100,000 square foot cultivation center in Gloucester County, told NJ Advance Media it had hired Philip Norcross’ lobbying firm, Optimus Partners, for consulting services.

Philip Norcross’ brothers include George Norcross, the executive chairman of the insurance firm of Connor Strong & Buckelew, board chairman of Cooper Health System and Cooper University Hospital and a longtime Democratic power broker in south Jersey politics; and Donald Norcross, New Jersey’s congressman for the 1st District.

Optimus Partners is also led by Jeff Michaels, a former chief of staff to Republican Gov. Donald DiFrancesco. Norcross and Michaels co-founded the firm eight years ago.

Sources in the cannabis industry have expressed concern that well-moneyed operations like Acreage Holdings, which is now operating in 12 states, and PalliaTech, which has operations in 11 states, may constrain the number of participants in the market.

Both Public Strategies Impact and Optimus Partners ranked in the top 10 in receipts taken in by lobbying firms last year, respectively taking in more than $6 million and $2 million, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Public Strategies Impact was number two on ELEC’s list and Optimus Partners was seven.

Earlier this spring, Acreage Holdings announced former Speaker of the House John Boehner and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld had joined its board. PalliaTech and Acreage Holdings arrive in New Jersey as Murphy ordered a dramatic expansion of the state medicinal marijuana program.