TRENTON – State officials on Friday formally proposed the rules for public cannabis consumption areas – social spaces, sort of like bars, where people will be able to gather and use their legally bought marijuana.

The lounges won’t be opening soon. The official publication of the proposal in the New Jersey Register starts a two-month period in which public comments can be submitted, after which final rules will be approved and then an application process will have to unfold.

But the Cannabis Regulatory Commission said the proposal is the next step in the development of the industry.

The areas will also provide a legal place for people to consume marijuana that might at times be hard to come by, such as for renters whose landlords disallow it.

“Equitable access to cannabis means everyone who wishes to consume has someplace they can do that – legally, safely and responsibly,” said CRC chairwoman Dianna Houenou. “When regulated properly, cannabis consumption areas can strengthen the industry, while giving people more choices on where they consume.”

“I truly believe that this rule proposal, like everything we try to do, adequately balances both equity and safety, will open up new opportunities for businesses and consumers,” said CRC executive director Jeff Brown.

“I’m very excited that we’re pushing this forward because it is a safe space for consumers and patients,” said Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso.

Among the details in the rules:

  • Both the state and municipality would have to approve of any cannabis consumption area
  • They would be barred from overselling to consumers and must ensure safe consumption, to the extent that they can
  • Like any cannabis business, people would have to be 21 years old to enter and must show a photo ID. However, registered medical cannabis patients would be permitted at all consumption areas
  • They could be indoor or outdoor but would need to be enclosed
  • No alcohol or tobacco consumption would be allowed on the premises
  • No food sales are allowed, but consumers would be allowed to bring food in or have it delivered

Application fees total $1,000. In addition to that, licenses would cost $1,000 for a microbusiness and $5,000 for a standard license.

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Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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