New Jersey regulators balk at approving adult-use cannabis sales – yet

New Jersey regulators on Thursday declined to give the OK to any existing medical cannabis operators to begin selling adult-use products, saying the companies haven’t yet met all the requirements to do so.

The decision will delay the start of an adult-use market by several weeks, if not longer.

In a separate decision, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approved an initial round of 68 conditional adult-use licenses to new applicants, an important step for those businesses to work on the next step of securing real estate and financing, gaining municipal approvals and, ultimately, receiving final licenses.

Jeff Brown, executive director of the CRC, listed several concerns and shortfalls in the applications by eight existing marijuana operators to start recreational sales now. Those include:

  • Insufficient canopy to support a “vibrant recreational market” while also ensuring enough supply for the state’s 120,000 MMJ patients.
  • Insufficient plans to address how MMJ patients would be served in the likelihood of supply shortages.
  • Lack of specifics such as measurable goals in the required equity plans.

He said the CRC also is still verifying the labor peace agreements required by law.

Brown said the commission is committed to working with the industry and that he’s confident of the “ability to fix these issues and get this market off the ground quickly.”

Meanwhile, commission members indicated that the 68 conditional approvals – out of 675 adult-use applications as of March 22 – were a significant step forward in developing a diverse recreational marijuana market in New Jersey.

The ownership of the 68 applicants is:

  • 39% white.
  • 28% Black.
  • 8% Asian.
  • 17% undisclosed.
  • 8% other.

New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Edmund DeVeaux praised the CRC for its approval of the 68 conditional licenses while being cautious about allowing existing MMJ operators to start selling adult-use products now.

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“By not rushing into this process and taking deliberate steps, the CRC has done it the right way,” DeVeaux said in a statement.

“We are now closer to achieving our goals around legislative and regulatory intent to ensure that social equity and minority and women candidates are prioritized …. Doing things correctly was more important than doing things quickly. New Jersey is on its way, and we look forward to the next round of progress.”

MJBizDaily projects that New Jersey recreational marijuana sales will gradually build from $625 million-$775 million in 2022 to more than $2 billion a year by 2025 or 2026.

Jeff Smith can be reached at jeff.smith@mjbizdaily.com.