NJ marijuana regulators asked to loosen rules limiting edibles
TRENTON – New Jersey is still probably months away from legal sales of recreational marijuana, but regulators are already considering whether to loosen rules that bar any edibles such as brownies and cookies.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission invited input from invited guests and the public at its last meeting about how to handle the sales of edibles that resemble food – and how to make sure that if they do allow it, the items sold will be safe.
Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana – New Jersey, said the amount and type of marijuana needed for therapeutic reasons is highly individualized and that anything a person needs should be available to them.
“Any form of edibles should be permitted as long as the regulatory procedures are followed. There should be no arbitrary exclusions placed on cannabis products,” Wolski said.
Wolski sees a reason for extra regulation of edibles, perhaps including a special license, but not a full prohibition.
“Public safety can be improved not by banning edibles and other high-potency products but by regulating the use of these products,” he said.
New Jersey’s rules barring most edibles could hurt its overall legal marijuana market, said Zach Katzen, an Atlantic City Cannabis Commission member. He said people who use marijuana will keep buying from their longtime sources, not regulated dispensaries, if that’s the only place they can get the edibles they want.
“I urge you to act swiftly because not acting is only increasing the sales in the black market and increasing the number of shipments coming in on the black market because they know that edibles are banned in New Jersey,” Katzen said.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission restricts most edibles under interim rules adopted three months ago, but those rules could be changed at any point. Additionally, the CRC will have to enact permanent rules for the recreational marijuana program by next August.
Stockton University cannabis studies professor Rob Mejia said edibles account for about 12% of legal cannabis sales nationwide and is expected to climb to 14% within two years. He thinks they should be regulated – but not outlawed.
“In terms of forms of edibles, I believe that determination should be left to the market,” Mejia said.
Brian Cooper, chief executive officer of Ganj-A GoGo, said there would need to be rules requiring explicit warnings on the labels as people can run into problems of overdosing when eating cannabis.
“It takes an hour, hour and a half sometimes to kick in. Someone takes a double dose and then they’re in for the ride of their life. And that’s not necessarily that’s good,” Cooper said.
And Meija said there’s a new class of ‘fast acting’ edibles and beverages gaining in popularity. They take effect in 20 minutes or less and are often more potent – and need to be labeled as such, he said.
“Fast-delivery edibles can include gummies, chocolates, beverages and more. A consumer should definitely be able to tell that a product is a traditional edible or a fast-delivery product,” Mejia said.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.