Two-thirds of New Jerseyans voted to approve adult use cannabis by ballot initiative in November 2020, and about a year-and-a-half later, the state will make good on their wishes.
Seven New Jersey alternative treatment centers officially got the green light to sell cannabis to folks 21 and older starting April 21. These will mark the state’s first legal adult-use sales in the state, and the first in the tri-state area.
“I am very proud of the work the Commission has done over the past year to open the market. We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start,” said New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission Executive Director Jeff Brown.
The ATCs will be required to meet social equity standards, which include providing technical knowledge to new cannabis businesses, particularly social equity applicants.
“We remain committed to social equity,” said Commission Chair Dianna Houenou. “We promised to build this market on the pillars of social equity and safety. Ultimately, we hope to see businesses and a workforce that reflect the diversity of the state, and local communities that are positively impacted by this new and growing industry.”
The seven medical cannabis companies that are approved to open the adult use market will be assessed on diversity in hiring and management, support for community programs, the number of new and local businesses to which they provide technical support, and the percentage of minority-owned vendors or suppliers with which they contract, among other things, according to an April 14 announcement by the CRC. Dispensary scores will be posted and updated regularly on the CRC’s website.
“We know that drug prohibition laws have through history disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities – and continue to do so,” said Wesley McWhite, CRC’s director of diversity and inclusion, who will be responsible for ensuring that the ATCs licensed for recreational use comply with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, the enabling legislation for the industry.
“A socially equitable cannabis market will have substantial representation of those communities in employment and in ownership and these companies that have been benefitting from the market for the past 12 years – and are now expanding into the lucrative recreational space – have a role in helping to accomplish that. Making the standards and the grades public ensures customers, stakeholders, advocates, and the general public have a clear picture of the equity and diversity efforts in the New Jersey market,” McWhite said.
A list of locations that will open on April 21 will be posted on the CRC’s website as soon as the companies confirm the date they’ll be starting operations.