Twelve cannabis dispensaries across New Jersey opened their doors for adult-use sales on the morning of April 21 for the first time ever, greeting lines that for some wrapped around the building.
Despite the demand, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission said in an announcement that afternoon that it “had to investigate only a few minor complaints.” And, no significant patient access issues or supply shortages were reported, the CRC said.
Adult-use cannabis customers in New Jersey are now able to buy up to 1 ounce of dried flower; up to 5 grams of concentrates, resins or oils; or 10, 100 mg packages of ingestible items in a single transaction.
“We encourage everyone to be safe by buying only from licensed dispensaries and by starting low and going slow – especially those who are new to cannabis or who haven’t consumed cannabis in a long time,” said CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown. “Also, remember that the laws against impaired driving apply to being high. Our guests from neighboring states should remember it is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines.”
CRC Commissioners Sam Delgado and Charles Barker spent the afternoon in Wayne at a roundtable hosted by The Cannabis Research Institute at William Paterson University. The discussion was moderated by business professor Rahi Abouk, health economist and director of the University’s Cannabis Research Institute.
Barker and Delgado talked about everything that has happened since Gov. Phil Murphy signed the enabling legislation that created the commission and the state’s legal adult use industry in February 2021. Since its first meeting on April 12, 2021, Barker said they’ve “build the commission from the ground up. We started with five, six employees, and we’re up to about 60 employees.”
Over the course of the last 12 months, they’ve been a busy bunch. Barker said hours and hours went into stakeholder outreach to craft the CRC’s initial rules. Those guidelines were released in August, and since then application portals have been created and opened, more than 700 applications have been submitted, and the CRC has issued more than 100 conditional licenses.
“Regarding equity, we’re very intentional to do what we can to make sure applicants, especially … those most impacted by the War on Drugs, not only had a shot but felt encouraged to apply. For starters, we eased access into the market. There’s no deadline to apply. When you’re ready to apply, when you have your ducks in a row, you can apply,” he said.
Creating conditional licenses, which were contingent on real estate site control or municipal approval, is one of the ways the CRC worked to equitize cannabis, Barker said, because with a conditional license in hand, businesses can “leverage more resources, leverage capital, and gain site control.” It was a creative way to give social equity applicants and microbusiness applicants a chance, he said.
“If you’ve ever negotiated a lease, lease negotiations can take months,” Delgado said. “The conditional license gives you time to get your site control, to negotiate your lease, it gives you time to get that municipal approval or any other deficiency that you may have.”
Delgado addressed home grow, a hot button topic among patient advocates and equity activists. Several legal adult use markets nationwide allow for residents to grow a small number of plants, but it’s illegal in New Jersey.
“If you want home grown, pick up the phone and call your state legislator,” Delgado said.