December 04, 2017
More than 40 years ago, a handful of visionaries in a then-reeling Atlantic City saw legal casino gambling as a way to reverse the town’s declining fortunes. In 1976, a statewide vote gave it the ways and means to accomplish that, which it did for three decades until forces mainly beyond its control brought Atlantic City to where things stand today.
Incredibly, the election of Gov.-elect Phil Murphy presents Atlantic City with another shot to improve itself, although, perhaps, on not quite the same scale as it did with casinos.
As we all know, Murphy has made known his desire to sign a marijuana-legalization bill within the first hundred days of his administration. This is the perfect opportunity to not only give Atlantic City a crucial economic boost, but to finally solve the long-vexing question of the future of Bader Field.
All 143 acres of the historic former aviation complex should be devoted to cannabis. The bulk of the space should host the most technically advanced pot-growing/distribution operation in the United States, if not the world. It should be an indoor operation to ensure a 12-month grow season. Perhaps it could be powered by the nearby windmills.
Think of all the naysayers who, in the early and mid-1970s, were certain bringing casinos to Atlantic City was a pipe dream."
There should also be a research-and-development component for both the commercial and medical sides of the industry. The goal should be for Bader Field to be not only the hub of New Jersey’s imminent legal cannabis industry, but also be a primary source of weed and weed technology for jurisdictions where legalization is inevitable, given the changing attitudes of Americans toward pot, as well as the revenue-generating potential that legalization represents.
The goal should be to have “Bader Field” pot be the industry gold standard.
This alone could create hundreds of well-paying jobs, not to mention those created by auxiliary businesses and others that would cater to the population of workers. But, as they say on TV infomercials, wait, there’s more:
Bader Field’s cannabis operation could also be a tourist attraction: There could be tours of the complex like those offered at such businesses as Herr’s Potato Chips in Nottingham, Pa. and the Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, Pa (although, unlike at Herr’s and Yuengling, free samples may not be part of the price of admission).
There could also be a Museum of Marijuana, dedicated to the history of the weed, its place in popular culture through the centuries and its present and future uses.
I’m sure some who read this will wonder how much pot I smoked before writing this. To them, I respond: Think of all the naysayers who, in the early and mid-1970s, were certain bringing casinos to Atlantic City was a pipe dream.
No matter where you stand on the issue, legalization is coming. There’s no reason Atlantic City shouldn’t enjoy more high times as a result.
Chuck Darrow is a journalist and radio personality who has been writing about Atlantic City since 1976.