On Thursday, April 14th, New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC” or the “Commission”) announced that adult-use (i.e., recreational) cannabis sales can begin in the Garden State at certain dispensaries on April 21, 2022. Click here to view the announcement. The announcement came days after the CRC’s April 11, 2022 meeting at which the CRC (the entity that oversees New Jersey’s medical and adult-use cannabis programs) approved seven medical cannabis alternative treatment centers (“ATC”) to be the first to begin selling adult-use cannabis in the state. The seven approved ATCs are: Acreage CCF New Jersey, Curaleaf, Columbia Care, Verano, GTI New Jersey, Ascend New Jersey, and TerrAscend. Click here to learn more about the approved ATC expansions and more conditional licenses for the recreational cannabis market. On Thursday, the CRC confirmed that those ATCs could begin adult-use sales on April 21st at thirteen of their locations across the state at sites in: Phillipsburg, Maplewood, Bellmawr, Edgewater Park, Bloomfield, Paterson, Rochelle Park, Elizabeth, Lawrence, Deptford, Vineland, Williamstown, and Egg Harbor. Click here to learn more about the CRC confirmation. Notably, although it is now up to the ATCs to decide when they each begin adult-use sales, the majority of them have already indicated that they plan to begin sales at some of their locations on April 21st, the earliest they are permitted to do so.
The start of adult-use sales comes a little more than one year after the CRC held its first meeting, on April 12, 2021. Since that time, the launch of New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis program has been delayed numerous times. Medical ATCs were expected to be the first to begin adult-use sales for some time. Indeed, under New Jersey’s adult-use law (i.e., The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act), it was established that current ATCs would gain access to adult-use licensure endorsements upon approval from the CRC if an ATC could certify that it has municipality approval and that it has a sufficient amount of cannabis to meet both medical and adult-use sales demands. See N.J. Stat. § 24:6I-46.
Last month at its March 24, 2022 public meeting, the CRC approved 68 conditional adult-use license applications for cultivators and manufacturers – the first adult-use licenses to be approved in New Jersey. Click here to read the approval. However, at that same meeting, the CRC rejected the applications of eight medical ATCs to begin adult-use sales. Specifically, the CRC reported that the ATCs were 100,000 pounds short of meeting the demand for both the medical and adult-use markets. Immediately thereafter, Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, said he planned to form a special oversight committee and hold Senate oversight hearings over what he called “unacceptable” delays in the launch of the state’s adult-use program. Click here to learn more about the launch delays. The CRC held a special meeting for April 11, 2022, at which it approved the applications of the seven ATCs to expand into the adult-use market at 13 retail dispensaries, subject to the ATCs passing operational inspections and receiving expanded licenses. Also on April 11th, the CRC approved another 34 conditional adult-use cultivator and manufacturer license applications (in addition to the 68 that were approved in March, bringing the total number of approved conditional licenses to 102).
On Thursday, April 14th, the CRC announced that it would issue the expanded licenses to the seven ATCs to begin adult-use sales on April 21, 2022. The CRC also indicated that it would post a list of the locations that will open on April 21st on the Commission’s website as soon as the ATCs officially confirm the date on which they will begin operations. As noted above, most of the ATCs have already indicated that they intend to begin sales at certain of their locations on April 21st. The CRC also stated that the ATCs “will be required to meet social equity standards, which include providing technical knowledge to new cannabis businesses, particularly social equity applicants.” The expanded ATC licenses are also conditioned upon certain safeguards for “post-award accountability.” Namely, if an ATC fails to continue to provide adequate medical cannabis patient access and supply, it will “be fined $10,000 per day and, if access or supply is uncorrected in 7 days, CRC staff recommend the Commission move to suspend” the license. Click here to learn more.
It has been a long road in New Jersey to get to this point, but the opening of adult-use cannabis sales next week marks an important milestone in the development of the state’s cannabis marketplace. We are continuing to monitor New Jersey’s adult-use and medical cannabis program developments, and will provide further analyses regarding the same, as appropriate. In the meantime, if you have questions regarding an issue raised in this alert, please contact the authors or the attorney at the Firm with whom you are regularly in contact.