Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has been hired on as a “senior advisor and consultant” for Green Leaf Medical, a New Jersey company that is looking to open a 50,000 square foot cannabis production facility and dispensary in Gloucester City’s Southport waterfront area. 

The announcement surprised some who remember Nutter’s initially vehement resistance to a marijuana decriminalization measure that he eventually wound up signing into law. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the measure resulted in a 60 percent drop in marijuana possession arrests. 

But despite his perceived opposition to cannabis legalization while he served his two terms in the mayor’s office, Michael Nutter says that his one-time opposition to decriminalization was due to the fact that he actually wanted to go further when it came to cannabis access. 

“I was not opposed to decriminalizing marijuana,” he recently told a local news site. “The issue I was raising was I wanted us to do more than decriminalizing marijuana. This is medical cannabis, something that is obviously prescribed and it is legally allowed in New Jersey.”

Green Leaf Medical is one of three companies gunning for a Glouchester City marijuana license, and is competing against DEVI Holdings LLC and 57 Star LLC. It currently has operations in four states, with six facilities in total. The former Philly mayor will reportedly be working on community relations on outreach for the company. 

Michael Nutter’s Journey From Politics to Pot

Nutter was a member of the Philadelphia City Council for almost 15 years before he was elected mayor, and while serving in Philly’s highest office, from 2008 to 2015, he made reducing violent crime, promoting local businesses, and bolstering the country’s first bike share program designed for low income individuals. 

This is far from the only consulting gig he’s held since then. His visiting scholar profile at University of Pennsylvania lists 17 organizations he has advised, including the Department of Homeland Security, Airbnb, and JP Morgan Chase. 

Getting involved in the cannabis industry, Nutter said, is an extension of his civic concern, and speaks to some of his original reasons for becoming active in public policy. “One of the reasons I got into politics was to help people,” he commented. “This is just a different way of being involved.”

Green Leaf executives say that he’s being brought on not only for his influence, but also his impeccable motivation. “If you look at his track record, it’s very impressive,” says CEO Phil Goldber. “He has done some amazing things. His heart is in the right place. If he only had star power we wouldn’t have asked him to join the team.”

As Pennsylvania looks to expand its medical marijuana industry, there is also a bill in the state senate that would make adult use cannabis legal. SB 350 was proposed by two Democrats earlier this month. The bill would call for blanket expungements of past cannabis-related criminal convictions, and would limit the involvement of out of state marijuana companies to ensure priority placement for local companies. Governor Tom Wolf has called for a “serious debate” about the legalization of recreational cannabis, and recommended to state legislators that they pass decriminalization and expungement measures.

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