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Governor Murphy Says New Jersey Adult-use Cannabis Sales Start Winter or Spring 2022

Governor Phil Murphy said he believes New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales will begin next year in the first or second quarter.

Murphy was interviewed by News 12. He noted the existing medical cannabis dispensaries would be open for adult-use cannabis sales first in the first or second quarter of 2022 first.

“First or second quarter for a medical dispensary. Then a little bit behind that from a standalone retail shop,” Murphy explained. “I think there’s a very good chance. Assuming the medical dispensaries can prove that they’ve got enough supply for their patients, they’ll probably be able to participate in the legal cannabis before there are actually retail establishments, independently set up. But this is coming.”

NJ Cannabis Timeline

The timeline as to when New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales would begin was previously vague.  

Some had hoped they would begin sooner. Opening next winter or spring would be roughly concurrent with opening a year after the legislation was signed. A few states with strong medical cannabis programs opened quickly. But California and Massachusetts took two years to open their adult-use markets.

While the start date in the legislation for an adult-use cannabis licenses Request for Applications (RFA) was missed, CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown argued they’re making progress.

“Now that the CRC has adopted initial rules for recreational cannabis, we are working to roll out license applications for cannabis businesses. At the last public meeting, the Commission voted to utilize a best-in-class licensing platform. The next step is to publish a Notice of Application acceptance,” he said. “That will be announced at a Commission meeting, published on the CRC’s website, noticed to the CRC’s email list, and published in the New Jersey Register. That notice will also specify what types of applications the Commission is accepting.”

However, “the date of publication is not yet available,” Brown added.

Next Tuesday, September 28th, at 7 p.m., the NJCRC will hold a webinar on the new adult-use interim regulations and their impact on towns, license applicants, and others. They want to focus on the steps potential applicants need to take, social equity provisions within the regulations, financial and contractual issues, “and expectations for neighborhoods with cannabis businesses.”

The next CRC meeting is scheduled for October 5th.

Getting Ready for New Jersey Adult-use Cannabis Sales

Given that New Jersey is a state of nine million-plus people and not all the 23 New Jersey cannabis dispensary locations will be able to sell adult-use cannabis, policy experts have been worried if the existing medical dispensaries will have sufficient supply to serve both the medical cannabis and New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales.

The Coalition of Medical Marijuana of NJ (CMMNJ) Executive Director Ken Wolski noted there are still parts of the Jake Honig Act of 2019 that have not been implemented, such as advanced practice nurses and physician assistants recommending medical cannabis, the beginning of home delivery, and the lack of dosing guidelines. He said the CRC is not paying attention to issues with the medical marijuana program.

However, Wolski didn’t feel it would be an issue to start New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales soon. He noted it only takes a couple of months to grow and harvest cannabis.

Chomping at the Bit

Matt Harrell is VP of Government Relations for Curaleaf and VP & Communications Chair of the NJ Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA), which represents the existing license holders.

“We’re ready now to cover the patient base without any kind of interruption,” he said. “Curaleaf alone has enough to cover the medical market.

Harrell said the issue of congestion wouldn’t be serious. More satellite medical dispensaries like Curaleaf have been opened in the last year.

“We’re going to have more than enough,” he said. “I think we have that now regarding the adult-use market,” he said.

“Patients will not be affected,” Harrel added.

He explained said the dispensaries have been investing in increasing their supply. Their Master Growers have made the cultivation process more efficient in part by improving lighting techniques.

“The majority of the market is harvesting on a weekly basis,” he said.

Welcoming Competition

Harrell of Curaleaf also welcomed competition as more cannabis companies get licenses. He noted the market size will increase “when they get those (2019) players into the marketplace, it’s going to be a big injection.”

Many are disappointed that the 2019 medical cannabis application round has yet to be resolved.

While it might be difficult to predict the demand for New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales, Harrell claimed that the NJ CRC’s data is faulty, saying, “Quite frankly, the data and information using, they’re coming with the wrong answers.”

Harrell said the CRC said 160,000 patients need to buy three ounces of medical cannabis a month. But the Curaleaf numbers indicate demand is not that great. However, at the suggestion this is because buying medical cannabis prices is cost-prohibitive, he admitted, “It is cost-prohibitive.”

“That’s why we need access to SAFE Banking and get 280-E repealed,” Harrell added.

The SAFE Banking Act would make it easier for cannabis companies to work with banks. Presumably, they could cut down on costs and, subsequently, the price of medical cannabis. It’s pending before the United States Congress. Cannabis companies cannot deduct their expenses due to Section 280-E of the IRS Tax Code. So addressing that might also help. It might not.

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