New Jersey cannabis regulators pointed toward a delayed launch of adult use sales during the first meeting of the year on Thursday.
New Jersey’s adult use sales were tentatively set to begin in February. The adult use law, signed in February, directed regulators to kick off sales six months after initial rules were adopted, which happened in August. As part of that package of rules, one requirement was municipal approval, along with other requirements like proof of supply (for example, to ensure patient supply would not be disrupted) and operational capacity.
Jeff Brown, executive director of the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said during Thursday’s meeting that the snag in the rollout is a lack of municipal approval in applications from Alternative Treatment Centers, the state’s name for existing medical cannabis shops.
“We see major deficiencies in these certifications and the one that pops up over and over and over again, and that by far is the most prevalent, is a lack of municipal approval. And in fact, the ATC with the most supply in the entire state has not submitted a single municipal approval,” Brown said.
Brown added that some submissions were “promising” and were being “amended to possibly be compliant if they aren’t already.”
“There’s a level of frustration here at the Commission, certainly with me, certainly with staff and others, that there’s an effort to pressure us to move forward in a way that’s not compliant with the law. And that’s just simply not going to happen,” Brown said. “These are not new things. They have been in the law since it was signed. They are in our regs, they are in guidance. We reiterated them on a call with the entire industry, so they should not be new.”
Another topic that came up repeatedly on Thursday is the state’s commitment to serving medical cannabis patients as the adult use industry launches, which is why existing medical cannabis businesses that want to expand to adult use must prove they have an adequate supply for both.
Brown flagged that he’s noticed a “lack of specificity of measures to ensure that patients will continue to have adequate access to dispensaries.” Once adult use sales go live, Brown said, with more limited retail locations to purchase cannabis at first, “they are going to be crowded and we want to see specific measures to ensure that patients continue to be served first and see no decrease in access whatsoever.”
In an effort to increase diversity in participation in New Jersey’s forthcoming cannabis industry, regulators are also rolling out a public education program in the coming days. New Jersey residents can expect to see ads on bulletin boards, bus panels, bus shelters, and digital ads.
“We want to make sure there isn’t a corner where people are unaware of the opportunities that exist as we grow this industry from scratch,” said Toni-Anne Blake, director of communications for the CRC, on Thursday.