The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) at its April 11 meeting approved seven medical cannabis dispensaries that can now serve the state’s long-awaited adult-use market.
“This is good news,” John Fanburg, co-chair of the Cannabis Industry Law Practice at Roseland, N.J.-based Brach Eichler said in a public statement. “Cannabis prohibition is finally coming to an end. Currently, the black market controls 100 percent of adult recreational cannabis sales. This will bring the purchase and sale into the open, outside of the black market, in a safe and quality-controlled market. It’s not just about the tax revenue; it’s about social justice and safety.”
The commission’s vote means that Acreage, Curaleaf, Columbia Care, Verano, Ascend Wellness, GTI and TerrAscend may all begin selling adult-use cannabis at their medical dispensary locations, formerly known as alternative treatment centers, the news outlet reported.
“Over the last year we hit many milestones and all strengthened us to getting to this point,” CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown told NJ.com.
The news comes after the CRC at its March 24 meeting postponed its approval of the medical cannabis dispensaries seeking to expand their operations to serve the broader adult-use market.
Brown said at the time that the decision to allow the medical dispensaries to expand was put on hold because commissioners wanted to see plans for how the retailers could accommodate both medical patients and adult-use customers at their locations.
Brown also estimated last month that the medical cannabis retailers were short by 100,000 pounds of product to meet the demand of both the medical and adult-use markets.
While regulators approved 68 conditional adult-use cannabis cultivation and manufacturing licenses at their March 24 meeting, those licensees are not expected to launch operations until this fall.
The CRC approved an additional 34 conditional adult-use cultivation and manufacturing licenses April 11, according to NJ.com.
Still, the seven approved medical cannabis operators, which are all vertically integrated, will be the only ones to serve the non-medical market until these additional adult-use licensees become operational.
The commission will bypass the state’s 30-day notification period for cannabis sales to begin at the approved medical cannabis retailers, NJ.com reported, and these operators will only need to complete four items, including paying final expansion fees to the CRC and receiving their final adult-use licenses, before they can start selling to the adult-use market.
The CRC has scheduled an April 12 meeting to go over the checklist of items that the approved medical cannabis dispensaries must complete before launching adult-use sales, according to news outlet.
“This is a call for new entrepreneurs,” Brown said. “We need new businesses to keep applying to help us meet this demand to get this market to where it needs to be.”
As of March 22, 264 adult-use dispensary applications had been submitted, according to an app.com report. The CRC is continuing to review adult-use cultivation, manufacturing, testing and retail applications, the news outlet reported.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, has announced that a special bipartisan legislative committee will be formed to investigate the delayed launch of the state’s adult-use cannabis market, which was initially expected to launch in February.