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New Jersey Releases Rules for Adult-Use Cannabis Businesses but Misses Deadline for Applications

by Sarah Cawthon September 30, 2021

The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission adopted its first set of rules and regulations for adult-use cannabis businesses on August 19, bringing the state one step closer to legal cannabis sales. The bill, which was approved by voters in November 2020, left the commission the autonomy to craft the industry.

The state had been accepting public comments and testimonies for months on the proposed rules, pushing for equity and inclusivity within the state’s program. Many of the rules prioritize local entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds over multi-state operators in the licensing process. As it currently stands, nearly all of the state’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries are operated by out-of-state corporations.

While the proposed rules set the foundation for the state’s adult-use market, regulators have stressed that the rules can still be amended over time. However, for now, advocates are content with the commission’s initial set of rules.

The commission will now need to set a date within the next six months to mark the beginning of adult-use sales, but no official date has been set yet.

Additionally, roughly 71 percent of cities in the state opted-out of allowing adult-use sales. Cities in the state had to decide by Aug. 21 if they would allow or ban adult-use cannabis in the city before a five-year moratorium on the ban went into place.

While nearly 400 cities in the state chose to initially ban adult-use cannabis, the cities are able to opt-in to sales at any point. Many cities have intentions of opting in once they’ve been able to set up their own rules and regulations regarding sales. Other cities are allowing other cannabis businesses, but not retail businesses while others are only allowing for medical operations.

While cities are able to opt-out of adult-use sales and enact regulations, they cannot prohibit delivery services.

Licensing decisions will be based on market demand, and regulators will also be prioritizing microbusiness and conditional licenses, in addition to social equity applicants. Overall, there are six main licensing categories: cultivators, manufactures, wholesalers, retailers, distributors and delivery services.

There will not be a licensing cap on any categories, except for cultivators. Licenses for cultivators will be capped at 37. However, the cap will expire on February 22, 2023.

New Jersey’s established medical marijuana businesses will likely get the first opportunity to sell to the adult-use market. Existing medical cannabis dispensaries will be able to apply for municipal approval to sell adult-use cannabis products. The approval will likely depend on whether there’s sufficient supply to continue providing cannabis to patients and will only be able to start selling to the public once they’ve proven that they have enough product to meet both patient and recreational demand.

Prepare for New Jersey Adult-Use Cannabis Dispensary Opportunities  

If you’re seeking hands-on, ongoing assistance with applying for and operating a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, contact our Unity Rd. team to learn how you can receive long-term guidance from industry veterans.

The Unity Rd. franchise opportunity offers a network of seasoned experts, trusted resources, a turnkey blueprint and ongoing operational support to confidently operate dispensaries that are compliant and successful.

Otherwise, if you’d like to go about the application process on your own, you can begin preparing with our Application Guide and Checklist.