New Jersey cannabis regulators issued new cultivation licenses on Friday, expanding the state’s medical cannabis program ahead of the state’s adult use launch.
During a Cannabis Regulatory Commission meeting, members voted to approve 14 new cultivation and vertically-integrated licenses out of almost 200 applications. The approvals had been held up since 2019, due to a court order to halt the process. And, due to a rise in patient demand since then, regulators awarded an additional five cultivation licenses than they intended to at the time.
The state has roughly 120,000 registered medical cannabis patients, and twelve existing “alternative treatment center” licensees, which are vertically-integrated, meaning the license holders can both grow and sell medical cannabis.
While only four of the new licensees will be vertically integrated, all of the new licensees are in a particularly opportune position with the forthcoming launch of the adult use market. New Jersey voters approved adult use at the ballot box in November 2020, and Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislative framework for adult use into law in early 2021. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of New Jersey’s path to launching adult use sales.)
New Jersey cannabis regulators approved interim regulations for the adult use industry on Aug. 19, two days before the Aug. 21 deadline for municipalities to decide whether to ban cannabis establishments. To date, most local New Jersey jurisdictions have opted out of cannabis activity, but that picture is likely to change once the regulations are finalized. Janice Kovach, the mayor of Clinton Town and the president of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, has made it clear in recent meetings that, “Opting out is not necessarily saying ‘no.’ In some cases, an opt out is a ‘maybe later.’”
After the votes came down to award the licenses, regulators opened up a public comment period, during which the subject of equity came up. In May, the CRC held a public hearing devoted entirely to equity. And in its interim rules for adult use, it is spelled out that license applications from businesses that are owned by minorities, women, or disabled veterans, for example, “will be prioritized in the licensure process so that their applications are reviewed before other applicants – regardless of when they apply.”
During the conversation about equity at the May meeting, the Commission’s executive director, Jeff Brown said that the Commission is “talking to other states and localities about what is working and what isn’t,” but added that the Commission wants to hear from “the community.”
“What are the barriers that exist in getting into this market? What should we look to replicate here from other states? What should we look to build anew? What in these statutes before us can help us at the Commission make this a market that is truly built on equity?” he said.
Here are the licenses that were awarded on Friday:
Hillview Med INC (up to 30,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
CYOUR NJ LLC (up to 30,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
Green Medicine NJ LLC (up to 30,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
Bloom Medicinals of Pa LLC (up to 30,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
Garden State Releaf LLC (up to 30,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
GSCC Management LLC (up to 20,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
NJ Nectar Ventures LLC (up to 20,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
ZY Labs LLC (up to 20,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
THe NAR Group Inc (up to 20,000 sq ft cultivation canopy)
Noble Valley Harvest Company (up to 5,000 sq foot cultivation canopy)
Etain NJ LLC
Altus New Jersey LLC
Greenhouse Wellness of NJ LLC
Holistic NJ I LLC