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New Jersey’s Cannabis Licensing Prioritizes Diversity

October 5, 2023

Explore NJ’s adult-use cannabis licensing scheme highlighting social equity and diversity, plus an exclusive webinar for efficient application guidance.

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) has announced that applications for adult-use cannabis business licenses will be available starting 27 September 2023. These licenses encompass wholesale, distribution, and delivery services for recreational cannabis.

A notable highlight is the decision to prioritize Social Equity and Diversely-Owned Businesses. These entities will benefit from an exclusive 90-day review and approval window, lasting from September 27 to December 26, 2023.

This development follows New Jersey’s unexpected policy change in July. Regulators initially planned to give preferential treatment to ‘social equity’ candidates looking to establish cannabis ventures. Although the NJCRC had initially agreed in June to grant exclusive licensing rights to applicants with prior convictions, the policy faced backlash. Critics argued it might sideline those most affected by past prohibition measures but who didn’t meet the ‘social equity applicant’ criteria. Consequently, by July, the exclusivity period was revised to three months.

New Jersey’s Cannabis Industry Opens Doors to Diverse Businesses

Dianna Houenou, Chairwoman of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC), emphasized the significance of introducing new classes for cannabis business licenses. She said, “The introduction of these license classes marks an important milestone in expanding and diversifying New Jersey’s cannabis sector.”

“With an increasing number of medicinal and recreational outlets now operational, applicants can tap into a flourishing industry,” she added.

Houenou also highlighted NJCRC’s dedication to promoting inclusivity, “Our aim is to champion inclusiveness, uplift local communities, and pave the way for those who’ve been historically marginalized in the cannabis arena.”

Starting 27 December 2023, Diversely-Owned Businesses will have a three-month window, until 26 March 2024, to submit their applications. Following this phase, the application doors will swing open for all other candidates from 27 March 2024 onwards.

NJCRC Targets Efficient Licensing with New Application Guidance

Jeff Brown, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC), commented on the growth of New Jersey’s cannabis industry. “With New Jersey nearing its 50th operational cannabis retailer,” Brown said, “it’s crucial we expand opportunities for delivery services, wholesalers, and distributors to better cater to our consumers.”

He also pointed out the upcoming educational initiative for aspiring licensees. “To streamline the application process and help aspirants meet the necessary legal benchmarks, we’re hosting a webinar on September 14. It aims to guide applicants through the steps, ensuring fewer delays like those caused by cure letters.”

Recent data from NJCRC reveals that a high number of applications were flagged for deficiencies; out of 2,014 submissions received as of August 2023, nearly 1,800 cure letters were issued. The upcoming webinar seeks to address this issue, ensuring smoother applications and diminishing the need for such notifications in the future.