New Jersey saw significant movement toward launching their adult-use cannabis market yesterday when the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) voted to adopt an initial set of regulatory rules. The NJ CRC, which was created back in April 2021 months after residents voted in favor of adult-use cannabis, was given a deadline of August 21st to complete this step and now has to set a date within 180 days for adult-use cannabis sales to launch.
But before that can happen, the commission must distribute the newly created 37 adult-use licenses, which includes working with the state’s 12 currently licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to potentially transition them into the adult-use space, as well. Most important, however, to many affiliated groups is the focus on social equity and reformation throughout this rollout process. Among the most prominent of those parties is the American Civil Liberties Union New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) who released a Baseline Cannabis Justice Plan the day before the CRC’s vote. “In this moment, as the CRC shapes the New Jersey marketplace through regulation, its Commissioners must ensure that equitable access to opportunity is built into every facet of New Jersey’s cannabis market." According to what we’re seeing and hearing thus far, the NJ CRC seems to be doing just that.
“The regulations adopted today reflect the CRC’s commitment to transparency and social equity. Prioritizing applications from women and minority entrepreneurs, from business owners living in economically-disadvantaged communities, and from small business owners will ensure the market grows the way we envisioned – in a way that is socially equitable and reflective of our state’s diversity,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in a public statement. Per the NJ CRC’s press release, “The approved rules address barriers to entry that have plagued some cannabis markets across the country.”
Those components include:
• Prioritizing applications from certified minority-, women-, and disabled veteran-owned businesses, and from applicants who live or will operate in one of several designated Impact Zones or economically-disadvantaged areas;
• Flexible application requirements for microbusinesses and those applying for conditional licenses;
• Application fees as low as $100
As state after state clamors to vote for and launch legal adult-use cannabis industries, we continue to see advocates push for the equity, equality, and reformation that so many who have been negatively and disproportionately affected by prohibition so deserve. The ACLU-NJ played a major role in pushing for this kind of inclusive and ameliorative legislation, as did many other crucial players across the state. Now, we’ll be watching to see how the NJ CRC distributes its licensees and will report back when they set a date for sales to launch.