The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) took several steps to tweak the state’s cannabis regulations at its Feb. 8 meeting, including issuing a recommendation to remove the cap on cultivation licenses.
The commission’s Permitting and Licensing Committee recommended that the current limit of 37 licenses expire on Feb. 22, the date included in New Jersey’s cannabis legislation, according to a CRC press release. There are currently 17 licensed cultivation operations in the state with 418,000 square feet of total canopy space.
“The market is developing, and we don’t want to hinder that,” Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso, a member of the Permitting and Licensing Committee, said in a public statement. “The New Jersey canopy is currently only 418,000 square feet—far below the average of other states with legal cannabis. New Jersey currently has only one cultivation license for every 197,000 residents. The national average is one license for every 31,000 residents. We have a lot of room to grow. We expect that lifting the cap will open the space for more cultivators, ultimately resulting in more favorable pricing and better access for patients and other consumers.”
In addition, commissioners considered proposed amendments to the rules that would adjust the criteria for priority applicants, allow cannabis businesses to be vertically integrated and open applications for additional cannabis licenses classes.
The CRC ultimately adopted guidelines for additional cannabis business license classes, and once the rules have been filed with the Office of Administrative Law and published in the New Jersey Register, the commission will have rules for new license types including Class 3, wholesaler; Class 4, distributor; and Class 6, delivery.
Commissioners also approved an amendment that will reorder the criteria for priority applications, meaning that all Social Equity, Diversity-Owned Businesses and Impact Zone applications will be reviewed before all others for annual and conversional licenses.
“The change in priority order ensures that annual license applications from priority designated businesses are promptly reviewed and approved, and that the priority designation applies for all stages and application categories,” CRC Chairwoman Dianna Houenou said in a public statement. “The change should help those businesses get up and running in time to boost competition in the industry.”
The Permitting and Licensing Committee also reviewed the expiration date on the state’s ban on certain vertically integrated cannabis businesses. After Feb. 22, cannabis license holders may have cultivation, manufacturing, retail and delivery licenses at the same time, although they can only hold one of each license type in any combination.
The CRC also awarded 49 conditional, 11 annual and 11 conditional-to-annual licenses at its Feb. 8 meeting, bringing the total number of annual licenses to 39 and the total number of conversions to 33.