New Jersey Governor Says Let’s Start Selling Weed! Recreational Cannabis Sales to Begin Soon?
Good news for cannabis users in New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy has confirmed that recreational cannabis could be made available this month. This news comes a whole year and some weeks after the bill was signed into law. The Democratic governor made this announcement a few days after the proposed D-day for the launch of the cannabis market. Murphy did not give a specific date for this imminent launch but said it could begin before the end of March. He said that if he could predict an exact date, he would definitely make sure it fell within March.
The Governor made this declaration on his WBGO show on Newark Radio.
Murphy pointed out that the imminent launch of the recreational cannabis market would result in the implicit movement for the sake of medical cannabis in licensed dispensaries. He noted that some of these dispensaries might receive permits to sell adult-use weed pending the time more operators are licensed. The governor stated that medical dispensaries in the state have to prove that they can continue to supply medical patients even when the recreational market opens up.
New Jersey Recreational cannabis legislation
Accredited voters in the state approved the bill to legalize recreational cannabis during the general elections in November 2020. 67% of New Jersey voters passed Question 1 on the ballot to show their support for the creation of an adult-use cannabis market.
Following this approval, the state set up the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to oversee the activities in the proposed market. The committee also drafted the rules and regulations for the new market.
The approved law made it compulsory for the CRC to accept applications from interested cannabis businesses from September 2021. However, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission failed to meet this deadline. Instead, they postponed it until December. The commission’s reason for this postponement was that they were still in the process of establishing a procedure to accept, review, and assess applications.
Application submissions finally began on December 15 for growers, processors, and laboratories. The CRC then announced that it would start accepting applications for recreational cannabis retailers by March 15, 2022. Whether or not this is still feasible is still not sure.
Another Legislative Deadline Has Been Missed.
Many cannabis advocates have complained that the CRC is failing in its duties to obey or meet the deadlines issued in the approved bill. According to the legislation, the regulatory committee must have kicked off the official sales of adult-use weed by mid-February 2022, or at most within six months after the first regulations were approved. This means the regulators have once again missed another deadline.
This late miss is not a surprise to many because Murphy already mentioned in September that it was unlikely the launch would take place in February. There’s no specific date to look forward to, except waiting as the days pass this month.
When adult-use sales are finally launched, the state’s medical cannabis stores will be the first to sell recreational cannabis to cannabis users. Currently, these dispensaries supply about 125,000 registered cannabis patients in the state. These stores are doing all they can to bring up their supplies in preparation for the influx of recreational users in a few weeks. Once all applications have been considered and applicants licensed, retailers would begin to sell cannabis flowers, concentrates, vapes, and other cannabis products or accessories in New Jersey.
However, the above plan to include medical cannabis dispensaries in the launch of the new market may be modified. Governor Murphy insists that the only way he would allow these stores to participate in the imminent launch is if they can show proof that they’re ready for the influx of customers. If not, interested residents who have been waiting so long for proper sales establishments may have to wait longer until appropriate independent cannabis retail establishments have been set up.
Medical Dispensaries have also applied
At least eight out of ten medical cannabis companies in New Jersey have tendered their applications to receive recreational retail sales permits. The Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), Jeff Brown, said that about five of these applications had been found worthy of being licensed. But other reviews are still being conducted by the agency to be sure.
In January, Brown announced that the license approvals were being delayed by several uncontrollable factors. He explained that consent needs to be obtained from some local authorities before final decisions can be made. The legislature makes it necessary for municipalities in the state to approve the retail application bids of existing medical cannabis dispensaries looking to expand in the adult-use market. The town would make this decision based on the services rendered by the company’s medical cannabis stores.
Brown mentioned that the biggest challenge with the applications is that many municipalities refuse to approve the applications. At the commission’s meeting in January, Brown said that the absence of municipal approvals could escalate into a big issue. For example, the supply in these parts of the state would be limited. The CRC assured the audience that they were committed to ensuring the adult-use market got launched as soon as possible. Cannabis unions may be part of NJ’s framework as well.
Patrick Johnson, President of Curaleaf’s northeast region, has criticized the commission’s delay in implementing the provisions of the legislation. He said some medical companies who worked with the February date might have to start throwing out products if the new market is not launched soon. This loss would result in the layoff of workers also. Johnson added that the commission has to understand that it cannot establish a perfect market from the start. The long wait and missing deadlines would only result in the loss of better opportunities for the sector and its operators.
Many hope that the governor keeps his promise to launch the market this month. Especially medical cannabis stores that have doubled or tripled their stocks in preparation for the imminent launch. The governor’s obsession with a perfectly established market is taking too long. Cross your fingers on whether or not the market will be launched this month.