ATCs cleared to sell adult-use cannabis as soon as next month

Gabrielle Saulsbery//April 11, 2022//

ATCs cleared to sell adult-use cannabis as soon as next month

Gabrielle Saulsbery//April 11, 2022//

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Two-thirds of New Jerseyans voted “yes” on a ballot initiative paving the way for a legal adult-use market in November 2020. – UNSPLASH

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission approved seven alternative treatment centers on April 11 to begin selling cannabis to adults 21 and over, opening up the adult-use market after years of legislative and regulatory hurdles.

Sales could start within the month, the CRC said.

Acreage, Curaleaf, Columbia Care, Verano, Ascend Wellness, GTI and TerrAscend are among the seven. Their locations will be the only facilities permitted to sell cannabis to adult-use consumers in New Jersey until conditional licensees gain clearance.

The CRC also awarded several conditional licenses on April 11, including 20 Class 1 Cultivators and 14 Class 2 Manufacturers. These 34 new conditional licensees join the 68 initial conditional licensees approved late last month.

“New Jersey continues to move ahead of other states in the region on adult-use cannabis. Today’s action is the culmination of a tremendous amount of time, work and effort by the CRC and the industry to get this done right,” said New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Edmund Deveaux. “Looking to the future, it is critical that we ensure that both medical and adult-use cannabis are in supply and affordable for New Jerseyans. We look forward to continuing our work with the CRC on that process and eagerly anticipate the next round of progress for New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association, which is comprised of the ATCs that will be able to sell cannabis for adult consumption, called the CRC’s announcement “a win for so many in our state.”

“Not only will the adult-use market be especially beneficial to growing the economy and developing jobs in New Jersey, but the taxes from this now-legal marketplace will go directly to supporting social equity goals and assisting those who were disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs,” the NJCTA said.

New Jerseyans voted decisively to legalize adult-use cannabis in November 2020. After fits and starts that mirrored legislative activity prior to the ballot initiative, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and over on Feb. 22, 2021. During his gubernatorial campaign, Murphy ran on plans to legalize cannabis within 100 days of taking office, a deadline he missed by a considerable margin.

John Fanburg, who co-chairs the cannabis practice at Brach Eichler in Roseland, said that the opening of the adult-use market is good news, noting that “cannabis prohibition is finally coming to an end.”

“Currently, the black market controls 100% 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 is about social justice and safety,” Fanburg said.

The CRC has approved a total of 102 conditional license approvals as of the April 11 meeting. By March 30, the agency had received 732 applications overall including those for cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, distributing, retail, delivery and laboratory. Of those, 410 applications have begun the review process.

CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said that the seven ATCs approved for adult-use sales need to complete four tasks, including paying their final expansion fees, before those sales can start. Depending on when those items are completed, sales could start sooner or later than 30 days from now and Brown has scheduled a meeting on April 12 to go over a checklist with the approved sellers.