The Murphy Administration began accepting applications from cannabis growers, product manufacturers and testing labs on Wednesday — the first step that will usher in the legitimate marijuana industry New Jersey voters endorsed in a referendum 13 months ago.
Within four hours of the application portal going live 9 a.m. Wednesday, 500 people had established accounts, Jeff Brown, executive director for the Cannabis Regulatory Commission announced. By the end of the business day, 635 had created accounts, commission spokeswoman Toni-Anne Blake said.
“We are happy to reach this milestone,” Brown said in a statement. “Applications are coming in, the platform is performing well, and we can officially mark the launch of the state’s recreational cannabis industry.”
The commission will start accepting applications for dispensary owners, the retail shops that will sell the cannabis products, on March 15. There are no deadlines; applications will be accepted and reviewed on a continuous basis, the commission said.
Applicants who are owned by women, minorities and veterans will get reviewed and approved first, as well as from those who have been convicted of marijuana offenses and people from poor communities, the commission has said. One of the goals behind legalizing the sale and possession of weed is to lessen the harm on Black and brown people, who have been more than three times more likely to face arrest and conviction than white people, even though usage rates are the same.
Under the cannabis legalization law signed in February by Gov. Phil Murphy, the commission created the Office of Minority, Disabled Veterans, and Women Business Development to promote diversity.
The commission also created a category for Social Equity Business applicants, defined as entities “owned by people who have lived in an economically disadvantaged area or who have convictions for cannabis-related offenses.”