The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) voted in mid-April to approve recreational cannabis licenses for seven companies. All of the companies (Columbia Care, Verano, Ascend Wellness, TerrAscend, Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, and Acreage Holdings) already operate medical cannabis dispensaries in the state.
New Jersey residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis in 2020.
Why It Took New Jersey So Long to Approve Licenses
Legislators in the CRC and General Assembly say that they have taken a strategic approach to creating a retail cannabis industry that works well for everyone. Several delays, however, have prevented New Jersey from approving licenses. In some cases, applications were declined because dispensaries did not have enough product to meet demand. State regulators have also scrutinized products to ensure their safety.
One member of the CRC says that some applications were delayed or denied because the law requires companies to establish peace agreements with unions. The CRC wasn’t convinced applicants had made good faith efforts in establishing agreements.
When Can New Jersey Residents Expect Retail Cannabis?
Together, the companies that have received licenses manage 68 dispensaries in New Jersey. License approval, however, does not mean that the dispensaries can sell recreational cannabis immediately. It may take weeks before the CRC lets them begin operations.
In the meantime, New Jersey’s cannabis consumers will need medical prescriptions to purchase products legally in the state. Regulators have not committed to a timeline, saying that the process could take more or less than 30 days.