We’ve been waiting for it for a long time now. Ever since New Jersey decided to dip its toe into the legal cannabis business, arguments, controversies, and the inability to nail down specific details on the rollout of the recreational cannabis business have been the order of the day.
However, we are now (mostly) ready to begin actually issuing recreational cannabis licenses in New Jersey. In fact, according to an informative piece by real estate attorney Matthew J Schiller, on re-nj.com, we should be expecting the guidance on the application process in the next few weeks.
Easy Peasy right?
Not so fast.
As New Jersey likes to do, the process has been made extremely complicated. The legislature had to come up with a law, and add a commission to roll out the law and then argue about the tenets of the law and this new industry.
After all, what is our state legislature without a new law and a new commission? The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act, unfortunately known as “CREAMMA,” is the law that legalized recreational cannabis use.
To go along with that, last summer the newly formed Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) established out the first set of rules and regs to (finally) allow business to begin. But there are going to be a lot of steps. It’s not like every wannabe “pot-trepreneurs” is going to be able to jump into this business.
First of all, municipalities have the discretion of whether or not to permit these businesses and many have already opted out. They can also make their own town-specific rules and restrictions such as the number, the kind, and the location of cannabis businesses in the town.
Schiller also explains that the municipalities have the discretion of charging a 2% transfer tax if they so choose. Add that to the list of other things that make a cannabis business more challenging to run than other businesses in the state.
For instance, state law allows security deposits for cannabis businesses to be much greater in order to protect against the many risks associated with this business—both the knowns and unknowns. Also, there are issues like water-supply, fire suppression, and odor management that are either unprecedented in other businesses or need major modifications for the cannabis product to be sold safely.
Additionally, insurance requirements will be different and will probably be evolving as the industry itself evolves. But, all of these technicalities aside, we thought it could never happen and now it looks like it will.
Within the next few months, you’ll be walking into a dispensary to buy your favorite strain of marijuana the same way you bought your favorite brand of rum at the liquor store. Who’d have thought it would ever be?
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi Franco’s own.