The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approved accepting cultivator and lab adult-use cannabis license applications starting December 15th and March 15th.
Cultivator licenses, manufacturing licenses, and testing lab applications will be accepted soon. The port opens on December 15th at 9 AM. Dispensary applicants can start applying on March 15th.
Distributors, wholesalers, and delivery cannabis license applications will be accepted in the future.
There will be a thorough application.
CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown emphasized that they are accepting applications on a continuous rolling basis.
“We will not stop until a notice is amended or there is a change in policy,” he said. “We are not recommending establishing a limit on licenses.”
Cultivator and Lab Application Process Details
Brown noted there is a limit of 37 large-scale cultivators until February 2023, two years after the signing of the cannabis referendum implementation bill into law. That does not include micro-business cultivators.
The applications will be judged on a pass/fail basis Brown said. Thus, if an application does not secure enough points to be approved, they will be rejected with the opportunity to re-apply.
Prioritization of cannabis license applications consideration will be done in the following order:
- Social Equity
- Based in an Impact Zone
- Bonus Points
Thus, Social Equity, conditional, micro-business, and Impact Zone applicants are given top priority.
Conditional cultivator applicants have five months to secure site approval and town approval. After being awarded a license by the CRC the period begins. To qualify, you need to make under $200,000 or under $400,000 if filing jointly.
It is in contrast to an annual license. Site control and municipal approval are needed before applying for a license for one of those.
Brown said the law defines Impact Zones as towns that meet unemployment, cannabis arrests, and general crime criteria. An Economically Disadvantaged Area, a term defined in the interim regulations by the CRC on the income level and health insurance rate within a town, will also be prioritized. Brown said the list of Impact Zones and Economically Disadvantaged Areas will be released soon.
Some cannabis advocates and professionals have been wondering what towns qualify as Impact Zones.
Brown said the town lists will be released “in the days to come.”
“We’ll be moving conditional licensees first,” Brown said.
Bonus points will be awarded to companies with agreements allowing a labor union to be organized and those who have lived in New Jersey for five or more years.
To provide more details on the application process, the CRC will hold a webinar on November 30th.
Certification that medical cannabis dispensaries have enough cannabis to begin adult-use sales was not addressed. Brown said that would be addressed in forthcoming guidance.
While the NJ Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA) has been announcing they have enough cannabis to be allowed to begin adult-use sales, it’s unclear how much cannabis is enough when patient advocates would argue there has never been enough medical cannabis in New Jersey.
2019 Medical Cannabis License Applications Fiasco Fallout Continues
Brown said the 2019 medical cannabis license winners have until Friday, November 12th, to confirm they have site control for licensing and are a woman or minority-owned.
Brown said at the announcement of the winning that all the companies are either women or minority-owned.
However, he said that the dispensary application winners still need to be determined.
“We’re looking to move these as quickly as we can,” he said.
The 2019 medical cannabis application process started 28 months ago.
“We know the businesses are waiting. We know the know urgency of the patients,” Brown added.
He said that the six applicants who successfully challenged the medical cannabis license applications process would get a chance for a license, and the issue would be resolved by the end of the year.
Testimony on Allowing Edibles
Professor Rob Mejia of Stockton University was invited to discuss edibles. He noted edibles are 12 percent of all cannabis sales.
Mejia noted some edibles are especially strong and should be labeled as such.
He liked the idea of an edible with 10 mg per dose with a total of 100 mg in a product available on the adult-use market. Mejia said other legal adult-use cannabis states have products with such doses.
This would make them weak compared to underground edible products that go up to 250 mg in total or even higher.
He noted people often take too much when waiting for them to kick in. Mejia said cannabis companies should devote advertising to education on it.
CRC Vice-Chair Sam Delgado asked if it made sense for the CRC to certify budtenders.
Mejia said he liked the idea of such a program.
“They really are acting as health professionals. So, I like the idea Sam,” he replied.
Coalition for Medical Marijuana of NJ (CMMNJ) Executive Director Ken Wolski testified. He said there should be intuitional caregivers.
“It’s almost impossible for medical marijuana patients to get their medical marijuana in healthcare facilities,” Wolski said.
He was in favor of a range of edibles being available in the market and believed their creation should conform with health standards.
Wolski said there should also be sugar-free and vegan products and products that respect other food allergies.
High-potency products should be regulated he said.
Commissioner Charles Barker noted that institutionalized patients in psychiatric asylums and prisons could be an issue.
Institutional caregivers can provide medical cannabis to such patients, Wolski said. They are described in the Jake Honig Act. He said that they likely would not get access to flower.
“It would be some type of edible or oral product,” he said.
Cannabis Labeling Issues Discussed
A universal symbol to tell a product is cannabis-derived Dr. David Hammond said. He suggested the CRC use a traditional shape and image without the need to read.
He noted that most people don’t know what THC is, so it doesn’t make sense to put it on a label.
THC is the chemical in cannabis that gets you high.
The symbol should be recognized in spite of language barriers CRC Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso said.
Dr. David Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) agreed with Hammond. He offered a specific symbol of a green cannabis leaf on a yellow triangle. Nathan said it was a good symbol with a black leaf on a yellow background and simple. He wants the symbol used throughout the country and other countries.