Recent activity by New Jersey’s cannabis regulators suggests the state is gearing up for legal cannabis sales. For many, the process is still taking too long.
The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission approved a new marijuana grow site, the transfer of an existing medical marijuana license, and a system to help streamline the licensing for new cannabis businesses.
The commission also voted to transfer ownership of Garden State Dispensary to Ayr Wellness. And, the commission voted to use NIC Licensing, a technology platform for government entities to process business license applications.
“This existing state resource will enable us, the commission, to begin accepting license applications sooner than it otherwise would be able to,” he said.
Last month, when the commission unveiled its initial rules guiding the legal cannabis industry it also started the clock ticking — cannabis legalization law says it must open a process within 30 days of adopting its initial rules and regulations — the deadline comes this Saturday, Sept. 18.
Jeff Brown, the commission’s executive director, has said licenses will come soon, but regulators have not given a date by when they will announce the new licenses — the recipients of some two dozen businesses have been sitting in limbo for almost two years.
“It is not lost on us that everyone is eager to get that moving forward, as are we,” said Dianna Houenou, the commission’s chair.
“It’s borderline absurd at this point,” said Travis Ally, an applicant from that licensing round. Ally believes the commission should not expand cultivation for existing medical marijuana companies while so many are still awaiting licenses. Others have expressed frustration on behalf of the many small and minority-owned businesses that invested money into the application process and have yet to see any returns.
“They are waiting for much anticipated inclusion in the industry that had shut them out for so long and now may see a delay in that process, which is exactly what we did not want to happen. They cannot afford to keep waiting and neither can the state,” said Edmund DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. “This delay was highly inconvenient but understandable before. Now, it is totally unacceptable and the state needs to take action immediately.”
A spokeswoman for the commission did not immediately return an email seeking clarification on the deadline to accept new applications.