Recreational pot sales within weeks at 13 NJ medical dispensaries
TRENTON – Starting in a few weeks, any adult will be able to purchase marijuana for recreational use at 13 medical dispensaries around New Jersey.
An official start date hasn’t yet been set and will probably vary by location. But the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission, less than three weeks after saying dispensaries didn’t yet have the supply needed to add recreational customers, voted Monday to allow the alternative treatment centers to expand their scope.
Jeff Brown, the CRC executive director, said the commission’s staff visited all the sites since the last meeting are were satisfied that the ATCs were committed to prioritizing patient access, social equity concerns and labor peace agreements.
“The path to get there does not have to be any specific length of time. It’s based on when those ATCs meet those operational requirements and that license is issued,” Brown said. “It doesn’t have to be 30 days. It can be less. It can be more, depending on that operational assessment and when they can meet those requirements.”
To ensure medical patients aren’t squeezed out, the dispensaries agreed to at least 14 patient-only hours per week, exclusive parking and patient-only lines and, in some places, home delivery. The ATCs can be fined $10,000 a day and have their licenses suspended if they don’t meet those mandates.
“What we’re proposing as far as post-award conditions put the necessary teeth in place to ensure ongoing compliance with patient access and accountability with our social equity plans and accountability to ensure that workers have the rights and the choices that they are afforded by law,” Brown said.
Seven companies got the go-ahead: Acreage CCF New Jersey, Curaleaf and Columbia Care in South Jersey; Verano in Central Jersey; and Green Thumb Industries, Ascend New Jersey and TerrAscend in North Jersey. Another had applied but hasn’t yet been approved.
The expansion will apply to 13 of the state’s current 23 medical dispensaries.
The votes for the expanded ATCs were not unanimous, as CRC chairwoman Dianna Houenou voted to abstain. Also, Commissioner Krista Nash voted against the TerrAscend certification, saying she didn’t feel it was fully committed to a labor peace agreement.
“I’m very happy to see that some of the ATCs have decided to take this seriously and button up their plans for expansion,” Houenou said.
“At the last public meeting, it was noted that staff would have to do a little extra hand-holding where needed,” she said. “Now as the CRC takes the training wheels off of this bicycle, it is up to the expanded alternative treatment centers to ensure compliance with their plans, the commission’s regulations and the law.”
“I do expect to see some heavy lines, long lines and heavy traffic around some of these facilities,” said Houenou. “But I do expect the ATCs to work with the CRC and the towns in which the businesses are located to ensure that local officials are properly informed and ready for potential lines and traffic.”
The patient-only hours will vary by dispensary but generally include the first and/or last hours of a business day and a block on the weekend.
The CRC also approved 34 more applications for conditional licenses for recreational marijuana businesses – 20 growers and 14 manufacturers.