The NJ Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA) insists its members can start adult-use cannabis sales. But the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) says they don’t have town approval.
The NJCTA has been insisting in mainstream news publications for several weeks their dispensaries are ready to operate. They have portrayed the CRC as responsible for the delay.
“The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association has been pushing the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to keep its statutory deadline for opening New Jersey’s adult-use market, which was slated to be no later than February 22nd, 2022. Our member ATC operators have been working non-stop and investing substantial time, money, and resources into expanding operations to prepare for recreational sales. Hiring more staff, building more distribution centers, and expanding cultivation/processing sites,” they said in a statement.
However, NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) Executive Director Jeff Brown made it clear two companies that want to open for adult-use sales don’t have town approval.
“The ATC with the most supply has not received municipal approval,” he added. “We see major deficiencies in these certifications.”
Thus, the large cannabis corporations that are Multi-State Operators (MSOs) are having the problem start-up entrepreneurs have of finding a cannabis-friendly town and location.
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Curaleaf and the NJ Cannabis Trade Association’s Member Dispensaries Problem
Of the NJ Cannabis Trade Association’s members, Curaleaf has been the most vocal about its desire to sell legal adult-use cannabis. However, the towns where Curaleaf has dispensaries are not on public record supporting adult-use sales. Bellmawr in Camden County, along with Edgewater Park and Bordentown Twp. in Burlington County, are on record only allowing medical cannabis sales. Winslow in Camden County, where their manufacturing facility is located, is on record supporting adult-use manufacturing businesses but not dispensaries.
We have received municipal approvals from Bellmawr to operate as adult use in these facilities,” a spokesperson for Curaleaf said.
She said that they received their approval on December 30th. Unfortunately, due to Bellmawr’s website technical error, that could not be confirmed.
Edgewater Park has opted into adult-use and passed their ordinance: we are working with the town to get our resolution passed and our letter from the Mayor. We anticipate final approvals in Winslow next week,” the spokesperson said. We are in active discussions with Bordentown on getting approvals for adult use.
Other dispensaries are also in towns that don’t support adult-use cannabis. Secaucus in Hudson County, where Harmony is based, and Cranbury in Middlesex County, where Breakwater is based, are among those who have yet to believe in adult-use cannabis. The main location of GTI Rise is in Paterson in Passaic County. Its Mayor, Andre Sayegh, vetoed a ban of cannabis sales passed by the city council last summer.
Thus, some companies might have to lobby intensely or move their locations to sell adult-use cannabis.
Many in the New Jersey cannabis community and industry would like the adult-use market open on February 22nd. Delays due to COVID, lawsuits, and politics have created many unhappy at the state of the New Jersey cannabis market.
NJ Cannabis Market Issues
Since the referendum said that sales could start on January 1, 2021, cannabis companies have been de facto dispensaries and delivery services. It has been to the dismay of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association. Their ads claim that cannabis in the underground market is unsafe. Yet there have only been reported cases of mold found at the medical marijuana dispensaries.
A range of New Jersey cannabis advocates consider legal medical cannabis overpriced and worse than underground cannabis in quality.
Membership in the NJCTA is only open to companies that have secured cannabis licenses. Only two are locally owned of the 12 cannabis companies licensed before the 2019 medical cannabis RFA was resolved.
It has been long thought that medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell adult-use cannabis first. Adult-use sales could be approved in February. Then they will have a 17-month advantage over CRC-approved dispensaries approved from the March 15th application round. The adult-use dispensary winners could be announced three months after the round starts. It would then 2take about a year to get them open and established. The 2018 round winners took about a year to open their first locations. Dispensaries might be quicker since they are not growing the cannabis they will sell, nor are they otherwise vertically integrated.