New Jersey is one step closer to providing customers at dispensaries with the option to consume cannabis onsite.
During the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s (CRC) Dec. 2 meeting, the five-member regulatory board unanimously approved a proposed framework that would allow medical dispensaries and recreational use retailers to operate consumption lounges.
Under the draft rules unveiled by the CRC, a business that wishes to set up such an area must be endorsed by both the state as well as its municipality before opening.
Operators would not be permitted to sell food onsite; however, customers could bring their own or have it delivered. Additionally, alcohol and tobacco could not be sold or consumed.
According to the regulations, the lounges can be indoors or outdoors, in an enclosed space, and there must be a 21-plus age requirement with photo identification for entrance.
The CRC also noted that businesses must ensure safe consumption and will be barred from overselling to customers.
Application fees would be $1,000 for all businesses; microbusinesses would be charged a $1,000 licensing fee while standard licensing for other operators would cost $5,000, according to the CRC.
Prior to voting on the proposed rules, CRC Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso said, “I’m very excited that we’re pushing this forward because it is a safe space for consumers and patients. It’s definitely another stride for the commission, so I’m really excited that we were able to put this together on a timely manner.”
Before the regulations are finalized, they will be posted in the New Jersey Register and will then be subject to a 60-day public comment period.
If the CRC issues a final approval, New Jersey will join eight other states that have regulations providing for an on-site use option at dispensaries: Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New York and New Mexico.
CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said, “I truly believe that this rule proposal – like everything else we’ve tried to do – adequately balances both equity and safety.” He also said he believes it will “open up new opportunities for businesses and consumers.”
Expanding the pool
During the same meeting, the board also signed off on 113 conditional licenses as well as 14 annual, adult-use cannabis business licenses — six of which were conversion applications to annual licenses along with eight annual license applications.
Additionally, regulators approved a request by Secaucus-based alternative treatment center (ATC) Harmony Foundation to expand operations into the recreational cannabis market.
Following the meeting, New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) President Edmund DeVeaux issued a statement saying, “Today marks another progressive step in our efforts to make New Jersey’s medical and adult-use cannabis market the best in the country.”
After congratulating the more than 100 conditional and annual license awardees, DeVeaux applauded CRC “for its deliberate approach to developing New Jersey’s newest industry.”
“We recognize there is still much to do, however, we are getting there one step at a time,” he said. “The combined efforts of the public and private sectors to ensure diversity, responsibility and eventually profitability for New Jersey-based businesses is within our reach.”
To date, the CRC has issued nearly 1,700 conditional cannabis licenses, including more than 900 to potential dispensaries. After receiving a conditional license, applicants have 120 days to find a location and get municipal approval before converting to a standard, annual license.