New Jersey began accepting applications on Tuesday from individuals hoping to get in on the ground floor of the state’s coming recreational cannabis industry. By day’s end, state regulators had attracted plenty of interest.
NJ.com reported that the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission said that by 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, it had received 172 applications from individuals interested in opening a cannabis retail store.
“Today is the day where the CRC (Cannabis Regulatory Commission) portal opens and applicants who wish to apply for a retail license to sell cannabis … are allowed to do so,” said Michael DeLoreto, a director at Gibbons’ Government and Regulatory Affairs Department, as quoted by NJ.com. “This is a day that a lot of businesses have been waiting for.”
New Jersey voters legalized recreational adult-use cannabis in 2020 when they approved a ballot measure (three other states –– Montana, Arizona and South Dakota –– likewise passed legalization proposals at the ballot that year).
In December, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission began accepting applications for recreational cannabis cultivators, manufacturers and testing labs. The commission said that by early afternoon on the first day of the application period, “the application platform was averaging 155 new users per hour.”
Within the first four hours, the commission said that it had received applications from nearly 500 individuals.
“We are happy to reach this milestone,” Jeff Brown, executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said at the time. “Applications are coming in, the platform is performing well, and we can officially mark the launch of the state’s recreational cannabis industry. Getting cultivators, manufacturers, and testing labs licensed and operating will set the framework and establish supply for retailers who will start licensing in March 2022.”
Late last month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said that he believed adult-use sales would begin “within weeks.”
“If I had to predict, we are within weeks—I would hope in March—you would see implicit movement on the medical dispensaries, some of them being able to sell recreational,” Murphy said at the time. “They’ve got to prove they’ve got the supply for their medical customers. I hope shortly thereafter, the standalone recreational marijuana operators.”
Along those lines, NJ.com reported that Tuesday “also marked the day when the state panel expected to finish reviewing applications from eight of about [a] dozen alternative treatment centers that sell medical marijuana and are looking to the expand to the recreational market.”
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission has said that it is prioritizing applications from “designated target communities, for people with cannabis convictions (expunged or not), and for minorities, women, and disabled veterans.”
The three groups that will receive priority consideration from the commission are “minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned,” businesses “owned by people who have lived in an Economically Disadvantaged Area of the state, or who have convictions for cannabis-related offenses (expunged or not),” and businesses “located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from an Impact Zone, or employing residents of Impact Zones.”
Expanding access to the cannabis industry for disadvantaged groups has become a common feature of recreational laws across the country. New York announced last week that at least 100 of the first licenses for adult-use cannabis retailers in the state will be designated for individuals convicted of a previous cannabis-related offense, or a family member of someone with a cannabis-related offense.
Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board in New York, said last month that the state is trying to “build a supportive ecosystem that allows people to participate no matter their economic background and we want everyone to know they have a real opportunity at a license as well as support so that their businesses will be ongoing enterprises that are successful and have the opportunity for growth.”