New Jersey lawmakers and regulators clash over delays in cannabis sales

T.The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) voted on March 24 to approve “conditional” licenses for 68 different businesses, but voters approved the adult-use legalization in November 2020. We have again chosen to postpone the opening of the first pharmacies under the measures. It has sparked outrage from lawmakers and the cannabis business. But given the circumstances, some legalization advocates are less concerned.

Businesses with conditional approval include cannabis growers, manufacturers and testing laboratories. “These are the first companies to set foot in New Jersey.” Said CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said: “I can’t stress it enough.”

However, pharmacies, where people can actually buy cannabis, were left out. The CRC recently opened applications for dispensing licenses on March 15 and has since received 232 applications.

As in other states, existing medical marijuana companies are expected to be the first to be approved for retail sales. New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010 and now has 11 companies operating 23 clinics. Eight companies plan to expand their business to include adult sales, but the CRC rejected their applications on March 24.

“These delays are totally unacceptable.”

Medical marijuana executives blame the CRC for delays in dispensing approvals. “At the end of the day, it’s the people of New Jersey who are losing out.” I have written New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association representing all 11 medical companies. “The adult market will be a huge boon to New Jersey’s economy.”

State Senate Speaker Nick Scutari (Democrat) went even further. “These delays are totally unacceptable,” he said. “We need to get a legal marijuana market up and running in New Jersey.” put his teeth behind his phonehe wants to set up a special commission of inquiry in Congress to question what is taking so long.

That makes Senator Scutari sound like a cannabis access warrior. But you have to remember that this is the same Scutari who recently argued that New Jersey residents shouldn’t be trusted to grow their own cannabis plants at home. It says a lot about intent. He’s trying to use his political power to push for early cannabis sales that primarily benefit his existing medical marijuana business.

And these aren’t small family owned shops. Some companies, such as Columbia Care, Curaleaf, and Apothecarium, are large companies not based in New Jersey. They own a portfolio of stores across the US and some internationally as well.

At this point, New Jersey voters have been waiting nearly 17 months to approve legalization. That’s a long time, and that means much of the ban’s harm will last. But New Jersey’s cannabis regulators aren’t doing a particularly bad job.As new jersey monitor Most states took a similarly long time to begin retail sales. like Massachusettstook even longer. new mexico It’s been doing it in just over a year, but it’s insanely fast.

“There will be delays to get this right.”

Leo Bridgewater, veterans outreach director for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, takes a more relaxed view of the wait. He praised Gov. Phil Murphy (Democrat) and his work so far on legalizing the CRC, compared to one Chris Christie (Republican).

“There will be delays to get this right,” Bridgewater said. filter“I think it’s pretty amazing to see where we are today and where we came from.”

Bridgewater also praised Murphy’s dedication to medical marijuana patients.As filter The number of registered medical marijuana patients in New Jersey increased dramatically during Murphy’s tenure and now exceeds 100,000.but the country is suffering Widespread shortage of medical productsand prices have skyrocketed to some of the highest in the country.

actually, CRC rejected the plan Expand from 8 medical providers because Regulators fear medical patients will be neglected once the doors open for adults.

cannabis laws in new jersey measures are also necessary Prioritize business licenses and employment for residents in neighborhoods with historically high arrest rates for marijuana, unemployment and violent crime. This was another factor in CRC’s decision. It argued that the medical company had no clear plan to hire employees from disadvantaged communities.

“Medical cannabis companies may want it all day long, but the CRC is not asking for it.”

“Medical cannabis [companies] I want to see [their approval] It happens,” said Bridgewater. “But I don’t give them much credit for their ability to apply pressure…they may want all day long, but that’s answering to people, not to whom the CRC answers.” So I think we’re more interested in what this is for people.”

To see if the CRC’s licensing process is helping create opportunities for Black and Latinx residents who have historically been targeted by drug war police, as New Jersey continues this process. , all eyes are on you. The first 68 conditional license approvals last week identified half of the business owners as black, according to the CRC.

As Bridgewater warned, “conditional” licenses are not final. “It’s great that people got that recognition from the state,” he said. It means that you have moved to ”

“And the second phase is a lot different. You have to get a lot more detailed about compliance, and people have to raise capital and secure their fortunes, so it’s going to be a lot of hard work. That was the opening salvo.”

Photo by Alexander Rechtmann.

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