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Planning on pot California company Terra Tech setting up infrastructure in anticipation of legalization

Steve Vande Vrede, a director of Terra Tech and Edible Garden, talks inside a hydroponic basil greenhouse at Edible Garden in Belvidere.

Derek Peterson may be the CEO of a California-based urban agriculture business, but he’s betting big on New Jersey.
His company, Terra Tech, currently operates greenhouses in both Belvidere and Lincoln Park and focuses on local farming through innovative practices.

Go ahead and cue the “Garden State” pun now.

For Terra Tech, the infrastructure is already in place at his New Jersey facilities to begin cultivating marijuana. Entering the New Jersey market last April, Peterson invested in the facilities believing that at some point, the state’s attitudes toward marijuana legalization would warm — and his company would be prepared to deliver.

“Our national business model is that we need to build out an infrastructure based on the assumption that at some point … we’re going to be able to grow this stuff on an industrial scale,” Peterson said.

Terra Tech is either exploring its options or has already set up shop in other states, such as Indiana, Nevada and Florida. Add New Jersey to that mix and there’s a common theme: none have legalized pot for recreational usage.

So why not head to Colorado or Washington?

“We tend to look at markets that are developing rather than in a developed market,” Peterson says.

Peterson believes that New Jersey is headed toward marijuana legalization. It might not be overnight, but eventually the state will get there.

And if one lawmaker in Trenton has anything to say about it, Peterson might not have to wait that long.

As was anticipated, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) announced last week that he had introduced a bill that would look to legalize, regulate and subsequently tax marijuana in New Jersey.

Besides saving more than $100 million in enforcing marijuana laws, which Scutari is sensitive to with his background as a Union County prosecutor, he claims the move would create jobs and provide much-needed tax revenue.

Andrew George

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