Scotts Miracle-Gro leads funding to legalize adult-use cannabis in NJ

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Agricultural giant Scotts Miracle-Gro is the largest contributor so far to efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, donating $800,000 of the nearly $1.3 million raised as of Oct. 2, according to state records.

The donation reflects how mainstream companies are taking a keen interest in cannabis and, in this case, legalization.

Scotts entered the cannabis sector through its hydroponics subsidiary, Hawthorne Gardening, which has grown through $1 billion in acquisitions.

Conspicuously absent in New Jersey’s election finance report are large marijuana companies and the state’s existing medical cannabis operators.

Jeff Brindle, executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Division, said in a news release that early reports show that the marijuana legalization initiative already is among the top 10 ballot questions in the state’s history in terms of funding.

However, Brindle said he expected more, noting that $7 million was spent to promote a successful adult-use ballot measure in Michigan in 2018.

The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has donated $323,500 to promote awareness for the Nov. 3 adult-use legalization ballot question.

The only organized group opposed to the measure, Don’t Let NJ Go to Pot, has raised less than $10,000, according to New Jersey election officials.

The ACLU-NJ found it puzzling that larger marijuana companies hadn’t donated more to the effort.

“So where are the MSOs (multistate operators)? I don’t know what’s up with that,” Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU-NJ, told the Press of Atlantic City.

“From my perspective, it’s a miscalculation on their part. It’s surprising that the MSOs are OK with allowing what are essentially grassroots and nonprofit dollars to get the job done, and they’ll be the ones to benefit.”

A poll released Oct. 9 by Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey found 61% of likely voters in the state intend to vote yes to legalize adult-use marijuana or already have. Another 29% say they would or have already voted no, and the rest were undecided.

The next financial disclosure reports are due Oct. 23, with the state planning to make them public on Oct. 29.