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NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission Misses Adult-use Cannabis License Announcement Date

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) has missed a deadline to announce the first adult-use cannabis license Request for Applications (RFA) round. It was supposed to happen 30 days after the interim regulations were released.

Since the regulations were released on August 19th, the 30-day deadline has passed.

The NJ CRC did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.

Adult-use Cannabis License Application Issues

The deadline was likely going to be missed considering the glacially slow process of New Jersey cannabis overall.

No negative consequences were put in the law if the CRC didn’t make the deadline.

The Jake Honig Act of 2019 called for the establishment of a CRC. But the CRC was only fully formed in March. Thus, the CRC has only existed as an agency for a few months. The process of getting off the ground is likely slowing the overall process. They are also likely still coping with the effects of COVID-19.

Many are eager to enter New Jersey’s adult-use market, including a variety of gifting and underground entrepreneurs. Many companies want an adult-use cannabis license from New Jerseyans who started small businesses. Some have years of experience in the underground market. Some saw an opportunity when the New Jersey cannabis referendum said adult-use cannabis would be legal on January 1, 2021. They have been operating in fashion to prepare themselves to complete an adult-use cannabis license application. Other companies from elsewhere, including large cannabis corporations known as Multi-State Operators (MSOs), also want a New Jersey adult-use cannabis license.

Many potential adult-use cannabis license applicants are unhappy that the traditional baked edibles and candy of the underground market are allowed under the interim regulations.

Lack of Action on 2019 Medical License Round Weighs Heavily

More than a new adult-use round, many are unhappy that the CRC has yet to announce winners of the 2019 RFA round. It’s a process that started 26 months ago. Many applicants and others have become exceedingly unhappy that it has yet to be resolved.

“They’ve been doing a lot, so I get it. I can see, especially when you still have to deal with 2019,” New Jersey Cannabusiness Association (NJCBA) President Ed DeVeaux said. “I don’t think that looking at today’s date versus the 30 days, I don’t think it’s a terrible miss.”

He attributed the lack of progress to growing pains. They were writing the adult-use market interim regulations and simultaneously creating an agency and filling positions, along with grading the 2019 licenses DeVeaux noted.

“There’s just so many moving parts,” he said.  

Problems

“More important than missing the new RFA is naming the 2019 round of winners,” he added. “2019 is absolutely critical, more critical than releasing the new RFA.

In July 2019, the NJ Department of Health issued an RFA for five cultivation licenses with two in North Jersey, two in Central Jersey, and one in South Jersey. 15 dispensary licenses divided among the three regions and one vertically integrated cannabis corporation for each region for a total of 24 licenses.

Approximately 200 companies that applied in the 2019 medical cannabis RF) are still waiting for a decision from the CRC. The RFA process began 26 months ago, in July 2019. It was delayed by a lawsuit that delayed the overall scoring of applications, and COVID delayed the lawsuit.

DeVeaux noted there are currently only 12 license holders.

“This is really important. You got to get 2019 done,” he said. “As a representative of the industry, I do have to say I’m disappointed 2019 hasn’t been done.”

“If it was me, from a pure executive approach to things, maybe I would have hired a consulting firm,” he said. “You’re tripping the number.”

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