New Jersey lawmakers approved initial rules on August 19 that will set up the foundation for the state’s retail cannabis market.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission met to discuss and incorporate rules that will regulate the state’s adult-use cannabis trade. The move was in response to Governor Phil Murphy’s August 21 deadline—set back in February.
Lawmakers will decide when the “Garden State” can officially start selling cannabis legally. However, New Jersey residents don’t need to hold on too long—because the commission must choose a date within 180 days of August 19.
Under the new regulations, adults ages 21 and older can purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis, but home cultivation would not be permitted, which is one of the main provisions activists typically target.
Three licensing categories will be designed to promote social equity by helping businesses that are minority- and women-owned or located in an economically challenged area. Six main licensing categories have been designated: cultivators, manufactures, wholesalers, retailers, distributors and delivery services. Gifting cannabis is legal between adults 21 and older under the new rules.
There will be no licensing caps—except for cultivators, which is set at 37, though that expires on February 22, 2023.
Since the state already has adopted a medical marijuana industry, it’s one step ahead when it comes to ironing out the details of recreational sales. Medical marijuana businesses can grow, process and sell cannabis to the general public as long as they have the proper licensing. Of course, these organizations will need enough pot to cover both New Jersey medical cannabis patients and the demands of the public.
As we saw in other states, demand can far outweigh expectations: When Illinois initially legalized cannabis, for instance, the state ran out of cannabis within six days of allowing recreational cannabis sales. It’s not clear whether or not New Jersey’s medical program has enough cannabis to back up the demand.
We do know that nearly half of New Jersey towns have already decided not to allow cannabis retail in this initial phase of the state’s industry. In other words, New Jerseyans are extremely unlikely to have any trouble driving a few miles into a neighboring town to get legal grass. Towns cannot ban delivery sales, per the new rules.
Many New Jersey Towns Refuse Sales Until Rules are in Place
The August 21 deadline also calls for towns allowing cannabis sales to decide a number of little details on their local markets. For example, how many businesses they’ll allow, whether or not they want to restrict sales on the border with other towns, etc.
Being as no rules are set-and-stone, a large number of officials have simply decided to opt out of the market. However, rather than turning a blind eye to the potential of recreational sales, these officials simply want to wait and see how the industry operates within its first year.
One of the difficulties with this is the commission’s meeting is taking place just two days before the municipalities have an option to even weigh the rules. With that, there isn’t much time to consider what the best maneuver is for a community.
Still, even if a town decides not to operate in the market initially, they will be allowed to join in at any time they choose.
If passed, these laws will be enacted immediately and remain for one year’s time. This gives enough time for rules to play out and for the commission to determine the changes that will be required in the future.
If you’re eager to learn more about the rules the Cannabis Regulatory Commission puts into place, you can keep an eye out on its website for live updates.
Paul James is a seasoned cannabis writer and advocate for all-natural remedies. Currently based in Los Angeles, he hopes to one day take his writing to the big screen. He also runs and operates the mental health blog Bedlamite.