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New Jersey cannabis industry has had rules established by regulators

New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission has approved rules to set up the state’s recreational marijuana marketplace.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey‘s cannabis regulators on Thursday approved rules to set up the recreational marijuana marketplace, giving application priority to women-, minority- and disabled veteran-owned businesses and paving the way for sales to begin.

A timeline for when people 21 and older could head to a retailer to buy a marijuana cigarette, vape pen or edible wasn’t given, but chairperson Dianna Houenou said after the meeting that a date for when sales can begin hasn’t been set yet because the commission wants to be sure that the application process goes smoothly. She said the start date is “admittedly uncertain.”

“We know that there is a lot of interest in getting this market up and running and we were duty-bound to do it right,” she said in a separate statement.

The five-member commission, which was established under a February law, voted unanimously to approve the the 160-pages of regulations. The rules got expedited treatment under the law, sidestepping the usual public comment and response period.

Commission executive director Jeff Brown said a next step will be a notice that applications will be accepted.

The rules focus heavily on what commissioners called equity — a main driver of the legislation because of years of disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against Black residents in particular.

Among the rules is priority for applications from companies owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans, as well as for those from poor areas and past marijuana-related criminal offenses.

Application fees were designed to be low to encourage small business owners, and not just major firms, from applying, with fees as low as $100. Annual licenses for microbusinesses — firms with 10 employees — will cost $1,000. Large businesses could pay up to $50,000 for an annual cultivator license.

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