NJ CANNABIS LICENSE APPROVALS & CANNABIS LOUNGE RULES

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) issued 121 NJ cannabis license approvals and tentative rules for cannabis consumption lounges.

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In contrast to the first hybrid live NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission meeting, the room was nearly empty.

During the meeting, the NJCRC approved 113 conditional adult-use NJ cannabis license applications, six conversions, eight annual applications, and one medical cannabis dispensary expansion to adult-use cannabis.

“We’re going to kinda easy this month. It’s only 113,” Executive Director Jeff Brown joked after issued many more last month.

Many companies applied for a conditional license. A conditional licensee has a period of time, 6 months, to meet their requirements and then convert to what is known as an “annual license” to open their doors for operation.

The winners were as follows:

Cultivator Micro-business License Approvals

  1. 420 Blastoff Cultivator Micro-business
  2. LoveGrow Company LLC Cultivator Micro-business
  3. Max E Genetics Cultivator Micro-business
  4. Stray Moose LLC Cultivator Micro-business
  5. The Cloud Museum LLC Cultivator Micro-business
  6. WeedCraft, Inc. Cultivator Micro-business

Cultivator Standard License Approvals

  1. Alb Labs LLC Cultivator Standard
  2. Amcann Group LLC Cultivator Standard
  3. Boss Greens LLC Cultivator Standard
  4. Burn Factory Inc. Cultivator Standard
  5. Carte Blanche Cannabis Cultivator Standard
  6. Garden State Born LLC Cultivator Standard
  7. Green Garden Holdings LLC Cultivator Standard
  8. Green Zen Therapy, LLC Cultivator Standard
  9. Herbal Vybz, LLC Cultivator Standard
  10. Klub Canivibe LLC Cultivator Standard
  11. New Jersey Pure Roots LLC Cultivator Standard
  12. Quail Pond Farms Cultivator Standard

Manufacturer Micro & Standard License Approvals

  1. NJ Extracts LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness
  2. Atlantic Cultivators LLC Manufacturer Standard
  3. Eastern Tiger LLC Manufacturer Standard
  4. FSBT Holdings 1, Inc. Manufacturer Standard
  5. Green Garden Holdings LLC Manufacturer Standard
  6. Greenway Systems LLC Manufacturer Standard
  7. Klub Canivibe LLC Manufacturer Standard
  8. Littie, LLC Manufacturer Standard
  9. Loud Labs NJ Manufacturer Standard
  10. Mule Extracts LLC Manufacturer Standard
  11. New Jersey Pure Roots LLC Manufacturer Standard
  12. Newton AgriCulture LLC Manufacturer Standard
  13. Triple G Farms OZ, LLC Manufacturer Standard
  14. Victory Natural Farms LLC Manufacturer Standard

Retailer Microbusiness License Approvals

  1. Bergen County Cannabis, Inc Retailer Microbusiness
  2. BHJ Associates Inc. Retailer Microbusiness
  3. Brokin Hearts Premium Goods, LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  4. Cameron L. Smith LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  5. Canabhang LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  6. Dank Poet Dispensary Retailer Microbusiness
  7. Dank the Bear Retailer Microbusiness
  8. Enchanting Dandelions, LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  9. Flwr Shop LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  10. GF Financial Inc. Retailer Microbusiness
  11. Goddess Herbs LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  12. Happy Time Buds LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  13. Herbarium Dispensary LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  14. Ivory Organic & Wellness Center Retailer Microbusiness
  15. Jane’s Joint Retailer Microbusiness
  16. Jersey Cannabis Brothers LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  17. J I Consulting Group Retailer Microbusiness
  18. L’Eagle Dispensary LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  19. Lemon Cannabis LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  20. Liberty City Weed Deliveries Retailer Microbusiness
  21. Monmouth Greens LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  22. NJ Pure Retailer Microbusiness
  23. Ophanim Care Retailer Microbusines
  24. Pure Lotus LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  25. The Green Smile, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

Retailer Standard License Approvals

  1. Realmz LLC Retailer Standard
  2. 77 Main Street LLC Retailer Standard
  3. A1 Cannabis Corner LLC Retailer Standard
  4. All coast trading company Retailer Standard
  5. Atlantis Cannabis LLC Retailer Standard
  6. Authentic New Jersey LLC Retailer Standard
  7. Best Buds Bayonne LLC Retailer Standard
  8. Beyond BLeaf LLC Retailer Standard
  9. Bless Wellness LLC Retailer Standard
  10. Blue Moon Lounge LLC Retailer Standard
  11. Brighter Daze Retailer Standard
  12. BWell Holdings NJ Inc Retailer Standard
  13. Dank Dynasty Club LLC Retailer Standard
  14. Docanna LLC Retailer Standard
  15. Dog Top LLC Retailer Standard
  16. Floro Highland Park Retailer Standard
  17. Floro Hopewell LLC Retailer Standard
  18. Flowerbomb Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard
  19. Flowerpower Wellness LLC Retailer Standard
  20. Golden Tender Enterprises Retailer Standard
  21. Green Velvet Dispensary Retailer Standard
  22. 2359 Green Vibes Retailer Standard
  23. Healer Dispensary Retailer Standard
  24. High expectations for u Retailer Standard
  25. High Karma Retailer Standard
  26. Honeyleaf New Jersey LLC Retailer Standard
  27. House of Buds Retailer Standard
  28. Kemistry NJ LLC Retailer Standard
  29. La Vida Gardens LLC Retailer Standard
  30. Le Fleur Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard
  31. Legacy Cannabis Solutions LLC Retailer Standard
  32. Mo Blessings LLC Retailer Standard
  33. Modern Leaf LLC Retailer Standard
  34. Night Owl, LLC Retailer Standard
  35. Ocean Wave Cannabis Corporation Retailer Standard
  36. Pink Balloon, LLC Retailer Standard
  37. Power Flower Retailer Standard
  38. Primavera Products LLC Retailer Standard
  39. Quiet Bloom LLC Retailer Standard
  40. Roots NJ LLC Retailer Standard
  41. Route 22 Dispensary Retailer Standard
  42. RS Operations LLC Retailer Standard
  43. Rumor NJ LLC Retailer Standard
  44. Greenss LLC Retailer Standard
  45. SensiLeaf Retailer Standard
  46. Shiv Prasad LLC Retailer Standard
  47. Somerdale Cannabis Retailer Standard
  48. The Banc Street Collective LLC Retailer Standard
  49. The Franklin Cure Room LLC Retailer Standard
  50. The Friendly Flower LLC Retailer Standard
  51. The Grass Cab, LLC Retailer Standard
  52. The Mary Jane Joint Retailer Standard
  53. Tommy’s 321 LLC Retailer Standard
  54. Turareum Retailer Standard
  55. Unity Labs LLC Retailer Standard
  56. White Rabbit Woodbridge LLC Retailer Standard

The conditional licenses passed 5-0.

The NJ CRS approved 6 cannabis licenses for conversion from conditional to annual, which means they met all preliminary, conditional requirements can now open up for operation.

“Get fingerprinted as quickly as you can,” Brown advised applicants. “Sometimes it takes weeks to months. It’s outside of our control.”

It could be more than a year before some of these New Jersey dispensaries will open.

He noted their investigators are going through the required documents and interviews.

“Be as responsive as you can,” Brown said. “That’s true for annuals as well.”

He said background investigations take from 30 to 90 days.

The following companies won annual conversion approval:

  1. Eastern Tiger LLC Cultivator Standard
  2. The Fireplace New Jersey LLC Cultivator Standard
  3. One Faith Wellness, LLC Cultivator Standard
  4. Sussex Cultivation LLC Cultivator Standard
  5. One Faith Wellness, LLC Manufacturer Standard
  6. Med leaf LLC Retailer Standard

They approved 4-1, with Commissioner Charles Barker voting no.

The following eight annual New Jersey cannabis licenses gained approval:

  • 1 Bango New Jersey Inc. Cultivator Standard
  • 2 BudZOOka Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard
  • 3 Holistic Re-Leaf LLC Retailer Standard
  • 4 Indigo Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard
  • 5 Miles of Green LLC Retailer Standard
  • 6 Nile of NJ LLC Retailer Standard
  • 7 One Green Leaf LLC Retailer Standard
  • 8 Unity Rd. CJ1 LLC Retailer Standard

They passed 4-1 with Barker voting no.

Harmony’s vertically integrated operation gained approval to go to adult use. Their existing dispensary is in Secaucus in Hudson County. They have locations in Jersey City, and Hoboken approved for medical cannabis sales that never opened.

To qualify to sell adult-use cannabis, the NJCRC ensured they had sufficient supply and production capacity for patients and adult-use consumers, along with plans for equity and safety.

Their site in Secaucus gained approval for cultivation and selling recreational cannabis. An auxiliary location in Lafayette (Sussex County) gained approval for cultivation and manufacturing.

“The issuance of the Class 1 Cultivation licenses is conditional upon their Lafayette facility to continue to meet the needs of patients,” Brown said.

He said that they need to keep cash registers with Point Of Sales (POS) systems available to be exclusively for medical patients.

Consumption Areas / Cannabis Lounge Rules Approved

Brown explained their new cannabis consumption rules. He noted that one needs to be 21 and over with a photo ID required.

Cannabis consumption areas must allow medical cannabis patients access, no matter their age. Rules prohibit cannabis consumption areas from overselling product and must ensure safe consumption practices.

Consumption lounges may be indoors or outdoors but must be enclosed. No alcohol or tobacco is permitted on the premises of a lounge or cannabis consumption area.

Brown said that due to the Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement And Marijuana Modernization Act (CREAMMA) which implemented the referendum legalizing adult-use cannabis, they could not sell food. However, consumers can bring food in or have it delivered.

The standard license fee will be $5,000, and $1,000 for a micro license.

“This rule proposed balances both equity and safety. This gives new entrances for businesses and consumers,” Brown said.

“This is a proposal. If there is anything you like and don’t like, please let us know. There is a 60-day comment period,” said Barker.

“I’m very excited that we’re pushing this forward because it is a safe space for consumers and patients. I’m really excited we are able to put this together,” Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso said.

It passed 5-0.

At this time Heady NJ only knows of ten cities in New Jersey allowing cannabis consumption lounges or areas within their boundaries.

Jersey City has pending cannabis consumption areas applications. However, they have been waiting for the NJCRC to issue their guidance first before taking action. JC has approved the dispensary license of a few companies seeking to open a dispensary and a cannabis consumption lounge as well.

Guidance on cannabis consumption areas was expected back in August with delivery, wholesale, and distribution licenses. Unfortunately, cannabis consumption areas remain controversial in the older state-legal cannabis markets.

Guidance on infused edibles like pot brownies remain promised and forthcoming.

Brown noted that there have been 1500 cannabis license applications in the process of review. He explained over 90 conversion applications won approval for conversion from conditional to annual. Brown said about 250 conversion applications had been submitted.

NJCRC Licensed Cannabis Dispensary Stats

“We’re getting new applications every day,” noted Brown.

Brown gave an update on the number of applications. He described the breakdown by Class and Priority Statuses of Diversely-owned, Social Equity, and Impact Zones.

The CRC is collecting data on every worker in the licensed businesses. They want data on everyone from “the Board members to the budtenders.”

Brown added that application rounds for cannabis delivery, wholesale and distribution licenses in NJ would be forthcoming.

They also plan to further expand the medical cannabis market and change rules.

“We should expect many new businesses opening over the next year,” Brown said.

Chair’s Report

NJCRC Chair Diana Houenou explained they set several priorities last December.

“We’ve either accomplished or made significant strides on all these priorities,” she said.

Houenou explained they have expanded the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission, finished the 2019 medical cannabis licensing after 29 months, and issued many licenses.

She noted five cannabis dispensaries opened this year and expanded the medical cannabis program.

“We have 20 locations at which adults aged 21 and over can purchase adult-use cannabis. There’s still a lot of work to go,” Houenou said.

She explained they had issued more than 800 adult-use cannabis licenses. There have been 18 annual approvals thus far. Houenou said about a third went to Social Equity companies while over half went to diversely-owned companies, meaning they’re owned by a woman and/or a minority.

“I think it is a huge accomplishment for the CRC team,” she said. “Our priority review structure is working. The figures are really promising.”

She noted they partnered with the NJ Business Action Center to develop a cannabis academy that will take place next for potential cannabis license business applicants.

“We’ve got a lot done this year. There’s still more work to do,” Houenou said.

She noted they are continuing to work on medical cannabis expansion, finalizing more regulations and more businesses opening. Houenou commended the CRC staff and the commissioners.

Social Equity Fee Forums and Staff Delegation Progress

Brown noted they delegated to staff authority earlier this year. Under staff delegation, the NJCRC has 43,205 employee ID badges for those working at licensed cannabis companies.

“We expect the number to grow significantly in the next couple of years,’ Brown said.

He noted that Harmony, Wellness TerrAscend, and Acreage all had modifications to their operations approved by staff. Harmony has been the first NJ cannabis license OK’d for medical cannabis home delivery.

Cannabis home delivery passed under the “Jake Honig Act” signed by Governor Murphy in July 2019. Patient advocates fought to get this passed for years and continue to lament the lack of delivery thereof despite its passage.

Under staff authority, no Management Service Agreements (MSAs) and Financial Service Agreements (FSAs) are approved.

Many cannabis policy experts feel these agreements undermine the alleged ownership of the business, usually by a minority.

Houenou noted they had three regional hearings regarding social equity fees.

“The purpose is so the public can understand how tax revenue is re-invested in our communities,” Barker said.

He noted the meetings were during the NJ League of Municipalities and the MJ Biz Con, which many in the cannabis industry attended, so they will host two more.

Further, Barker explained that revenue from New Jersey cannabis sales in the 4th quarter of the last fiscal year funded the forthcoming NJ BAC Cannabis Academy. “It is a potential national model.”

Barker noted the difficulty of access to capital and technical assistance in the state-legal cannabis markets.

“No tax revenue from cannabis licenses should be for funding of law enforcement. This is a key theme from previous hearings,” noted Barker.

Barker explained that people also advocated for funding Social Equity programs, assistance to Indigenous or Native Americans, organic farming, Black maternal health centers, community resource centers, education, and workforce development.

“We need to hear from you again,” Barker said.

The money is earmarked and reinvested into communities most impacted by the War on Drugs.

“Our Social Equity fee, it is a critical component of our Social Equity efforts,” said Barker.

The generated fees are limited to a small percentage, at a few hundred thousand back to the communities. Meanwhile tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are generated and kept in the industry.

“Keep the pressure on your representatives in the legislative and the Governor to please use the lion’s share of revenue to support Social Equity programs,” Barker said. “It is critical to hear from the people so the funds from tax revenue can go to the right causes.”

Commissioner Krista Nash said the next round of virtual excise fee hearings will be two non-regional specific forums at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 10th, and January 18th next month in, 2023.

She noted they wish to “repair communities that experienced disinvestment.”

She noted that the comments gathered are reported to the New Jersey Legislature and to Governor Phil Murphy.

“Please join us. Your voice does matter,” Nash said. “Go to our website to sign up.” Keep in. mind you may send written comments until January 20th.

NJCRC Code of Ethics

“New Jersey law requires the Commission to adopt a code of ethics,” Hoeunou said.

Some notable prohibitions of the NJ CRC are no prior connections to the cannabis industry, along with no making of any promise of Board action. Additionally, commissioners having any outside employment, or talking to any regulated entities about impending or pending matters, in effect no insider trading.

Deadline to Open For Business Extended For 2019/2021 Medical Cannabis License Awardees

“The NJ Regulatory Cannabis (License) Commission is extending the deadline and final agency decision for 2019 awardees for six months as they continue to get operational,” said Brown. “12 months wasn’t enough for them.”

He noted they had prior issues with town approval and especially supply chain delays so they needed to extend the deadline.

Brown said their needs are similar to those seeking adult-use cannabis licenses. The biggest issue for most adult-use conditional license applicants is lack of Capital.

It was approved 5-0.

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