Recreational cannabis in New Jersey is so close one can almost smell it. Per Governor Phil Murphy: the state is “within weeks” of sales to adult use consumers beyond medical patients. As of today, however, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) has not approved recreational sales for any of the state’s 23 operational medical marijuana dispensaries. One reason for this delay (original approval was set for Feb. 22) is the pending written approval of local authorities for adult-use businesses within their districts.
“One of the biggest deficiencies we’re seeing is a lack of municipal approval,” Jeff Brown, the NJ-CRC’s executive director, said at a January meeting. New Jersey cannabis laws require the Commission to vote publicly on any applications for adult-use retail licenses.
Recognized NJ-CRC rules require all cannabis industry businesses to carry an active license. As of publication of this article, the state is currently accepting applications for recreational cannabis businesses seeking Class 1 Cultivator Licenses, Class 2 Manufacturer Licenses, and Testing Laboratories. Upcoming dates include application acceptance for Class 5 Retailers beginning March 15, 2022. This will apply to medical dispensaries transitioning to also supporting recreational sales. Class 1 Cultivators are to be held to 37 licenses until February 22, 2023, but there is no other established limit of cannabis business licenses available statewide. Resources are available here.
Application fees start at $100, and annual license fees are tied to size, with microbusinesses paying as little as $1,000 per year, up to cultivators with a canopy of 150,000 sq feet paying $50,000 per year. Cannabis business employees are required to register with the NJ-CRC and pay an annual $25 fee for a Cannabis Business ID Card, with all employees being required to undergo a training course.
Established New Jersey cannabis law dictates consumers must be at least 21 to purchase, consume, or possess up to one ounce of cannabis, or an equivalent amount of cannabis products. Residents 18 and older who suffer from a qualifying condition can register with the state to possess three ounces in a 30-day period with a valid medical card. Recreational cannabis may only be consumed in a private residency. Consumption is not permitted in a “moving” vehicle, but don’t be mistaken into believing that consumption in a parked vehicle will be tolerated. Even when New Jersey cannabis legalization is finalized, it will still be New Jersey. Driving under the influence and home cultivation remain prohibited.
For businesses, advertising is restricted to primarily those of legal age, with TV and radio ads only being allowed between 10 p.m. to 6 p.m.; promotion of overconsumption or making unproven claims are also banned. Further, all New Jersey cannabis businesses are required to mask odors. They must also have at least one staff member to respond to local complaints. Garden State legalization packaging rules note no appealing to children is allowed, and childproofing is required. Along these same lines, edibles are only permitted in the form of pills, tablets, capsules, syrups, and chewable forms, while any products resembling food like cakes, brownies, or cookies are forbidden.
New Jersey cannabis legalization is pro-worker and pro-business; New Jersey cannabis laws ban employers from discriminating against workers who legally use marijuana medically or recreationally. It is important to note, however, the laws do make exceptions for certain employers and occupations. On the business side, an Atlantic City official recently asked the state’s cannabis regulators to consider large-scale consumption areas within the city. Per the investment website “The Motley Fool”, New Jersey’s estimated annual marijuana excise tax revenue from a fully operational market will be $158,974,353.
Members of the public still have opportunities to suggest social equity project uses for the funds gathered from cannabis industry fees and fines. Two virtual meetings, to be chaired by Commissioners Krista Nash and Charles Barker, will be held on March 9 (Central Jersey) and March 16 (South Jersey). A meeting focused on North Jersey occurred March 2. “Social equity is woven through every part of the recreational cannabis market in New Jersey, including ensuring revenue is used to bring economic development and social resources to our most challenged communities,” said Commissioner Nash. The public can register to speak in person or submit a written comment on https://nj.gov/cannabis.
Keep abreast of the stirring new world of New Jersey cannabis legalization with CannaCon, the nation’s leading business-to-business cannabis conference. Their goal is to grow the cannabis industry by educating cannabis business owners on all things related to cannabis and CBD. Their trade shows feature a large exhibition hall with exhibitors from around the country as well as seminars delivered by industry experts. Liberty and prosperity for all who consume!