Tag Archives: Jeff Brown

One Month In: New Jersey Market Starts Growing

By Cannabis Industry Journal Staff
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Just over a month ago, a handful of dispensaries in New Jersey began selling cannabis to adults over the age of 21. The state issued licenses for adult use sales to seven alternative treatment centers (ATCs), otherwise known as medical cannabis businesses already established in the state. In total, thirteen dispensaries in the state started selling cannabis to adults over 21.

The seven companies awarded adult use licenses were Ascend, Curaleaf, GTI, Acreage, Verano, Columbia Care and TerrAscend. The state’s roll out created a lot of controversy over allowing already established, larger medical cannabis businesses and multi state operators to begin adult use sales before smaller businesses and social equity applicants get licensed.

Sales totals in the first month of New Jersey’s adult use market

Earlier this week, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) held a public meeting where regulators discussed progress, sales totals so far, conditional license applications and more. According to the meeting notes, between April 21 and May 21, retailers in New Jersey did $24,201,875 in cannabis sales with 212,433 transactions. During the meeting, regulators considered 46 conditional license applications and four testing lab license applications.

According to NJ.com, six new dispensaries were awarded licenses to begin adult use sales. Of the six new retail locations, Curaleaf opened their Edgewater location to adult use customers and Ayr Wellness received approval to begin adult use sales at all three of their medical locations in Eatontown, Union and Woodbridge. Ascend and TerrAscend also received approval to begin adult use sales act their locations in Montclair and Lodi, respectively.

About two weeks ago, the CRC testified before the state’s Senate Judiciary Meeting to share progress on the legal cannabis market, just over a year after the CRC was established. Jeff Brown, executive director of the CRC, discussed the agency’s goals and some challenges ahead of them. Brown says the CRC will be focusing on additional rules for adult use, modernizing the medical rules, enforcing regulatory compliance and information sharing in the near future. He also mentioned a couple challenges the industry is currently facing that they wish to address, including: expanding access to capital for entrepreneurs , removing impediments to finding real estate, educating municipalities to open up opportunities for applicants and ensuring medicinal cannabis access is unimpeded by recreational sales.

“We have made great strides in all of these efforts, and when we look at how New Jersey compares against other states, we fair pretty well,” Brown told lawmakers. “Beginning recreational sales on 4/21/22 was an important milestone. But it doesn’t mark the end of the process, it marks an important step in a multi-year effort to establish New Jersey as the premier cannabis market on the East Coast.”

New Jersey Adult Use Program Likely Delayed

Back in November of 2020, voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly approved Question 1, the ballot measure to legalize cannabis. On February 22, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills into law, laying out the framework for how the state would move forward with legalized adult use cannabis.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

The legislation became law once the Governor signed the bills, tasking a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) with developing regulations for the market by June of 2021. The CRC set a deadline of February 22, 2022, six months after the regulations have been established, for when they wanted to officially launch the adult use cannabis program and commence sales.

It looks as though the Garden State is not quite ready to meet that deadline. According to NJ.com, the setback is due to a couple issues, namely municipalities dragging their feet and worries about a weak supply chain. Before a CRC meeting kicks off today, Jeff Brown, executive director of the CRC, told NJ Cannabis Insider that they still have work to do before they can give the green light. “Feb. 22 is not a concrete date to open,” says Brown. “There is no firm commitment on timing of when recreational sales will begin.”

Among the issues that are causing these delays is local approval. Municipalities need to first approve and adopt the cannabis rules before allowing businesses to open. “One of the biggest deficiencies we’re seeing is a lack of municipal approval,” Brown told NJ Cannabis Insider. “That’s an issue, and supply continues to be issue. It’s the priority of the CRC to get recreational sales started as soon as we can, but we have to do it in a way that’s compliant with the law. We need the industry to get there.”

As Brown noted, the CRC also thinks they need to make sure there is adequate supply before the state opens the market. However, businesses appear to be ready and chomping at the bit to get started with the adult use program. Patrik Jonsson, regional president of the northeast for Curaleaf says they have been ready. “Give us 48 hours, and we can pretty much do whatever the state wants, and we’ll open,” says Jonsson. “We have product, the people and the facilities. There are a few minor things we need clarified around the product. But we are very much ready for turning it on as soon as the state lets us.” Curaleaf is the biggest cannabis company in New Jersey and has two cultivation facilities and three retail locations across the state.

While the February 22 deadline is still in place, questions still linger about when exactly the state will be ready to launch its adult use cannabis program and commence sales.