On August 19, 2021, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) provided its initial rules for New Jersey's adult-use cannabis industry. Emily Seelman, Founder and CEO of Canna Business Services, weighs in on these newly released regulations. Seelman says, "It is promising to see the State of New Jersey implement rules and regulations that will help to mitigate the risk of unethical business practices. I appreciate that we are seeing more and more states enact rules that address social equity in the cannabis space."
In New Jersey, individuals 21+ may possess and use cannabis. State-licensed businesses may grow, process, transport, and dispense cannabis, prompting excitement from interested applicants from around the country.
The initial rules address social equity by increasing opportunities in the cannabis industry for people from designated communities. Certain qualifications will grant businesses a priority review in the application process, including:
- Social Equity Businesses: owned by those who have lived in economically disadvantaged areas of the state or who have past convictions for cannabis offenses;
- Diversely Owned Businesses: minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned and certified as such by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury in one or more of the listed categories; and
- Impact Zone Businesses: located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from Impact Zones, or employ residents of Impact Zones. Note: Under the statute, Impact Zones are municipalities with a large population, high unemployment rate, or high numbers of crime or arrests for cannabis.
New Jersey is offering a variety of licenses through a number of different application types. Microbusinesses (a business with a smaller footprint and lower quantities of product), will have priority in grading. Conditional and Annual licenses are available for applicants with at least one owner who is a NJ resident for a minimum of 2 years. However, for Conditional license applicants, no decision-making owners can have an income of more than $200,000 ($400,000 if filed though a joint return). The detailed and complex cannabis licensing application process for the emerging cannabis industry is constantly changing.