The Cannabis Regulatory Commission does not yet have a release date for the 2019 Request for Applications awards, Chair Dianna Houenou said during her keynote at the NJ Cannabis Insider event in Carteret on Sept.23.
Houenou noted that this wasn’t the news she wanted to share, as it wasn’t the news those listening wanted to hear, but that taking the time to fairly evaluate the applications was the only way to move forward.
“We have to maintain a strong foundation in the medical market and getting the ’19 awards issued quickly is our fastest way to do that,” Houenou said.
The 2019 RFA was released by the then-governing body of the medical cannabis program, the New Jersey Department of Health, in summer 2019 and awards were expected to be announced that winter. However, a stay in the courts held up related litigation for more than a year.
“Even after litigation came to a close in 2021, it was still under the Department of Health, and this department was still on the frontlines of responding to the COVID pandemic,” Houenou explained. “Applications had to switch hands from the Department of Health, where there was only one commissioner, to the CRC where there are five commissioners, each of whom had to be briefed [on the status of the evaluations].”
Houenou shared that scoring for cultivation applicants for the 2019 RFA is about 99% complete and for dispensary applicants is about 75% complete.
“What I can say, is that just like in 2018, the scoring committee includes state workers for whom this is not their only work process [and] that we’re very close to getting this done … We’re going to continue to work hard and get it over the finishing line and provide answers for those applicants who had been waiting,” she said.
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