And converting to a full legal weed dispensary comes with a $1 million fee for a licensee with three or more retail locations.
TRENTON – The number of legal cannabis growers in the state will more than double after regulators on Friday issued new licenses designed to ease crippling supply issues for medical marijuana patients and push the state closer to legal weed sales for all adults.
“We anticipate dynamic growth and development in the industry as the new entities become operational and the great potential of New Jersey’s adult-use market becomes a reality,” New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association President Shaya Brodchandel said in a statement. “Together, we have an exciting road ahead and look forward to working with these new licensees — and those to come — to continue building this growing industry.”
CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said the goal was to ease supply and demand issues faced by the state’s 117,000 registered medical marijuana patients. Initially, the state was only set to issue five cultivation permits — but Brown asked commissioners to approve the 10 licenses as a way to kickstart the process.
The terms of the licenses issued Friday emphasized the importance of ensuring patients’ needs are met before worrying about legal weed. License holders must wait at least one year before applying for a permit to transition into recreational sales and cannot change ownership for two years.
The cultivation licenses were awarded to:
The CRC did not release information about the licensees except for the region of the state in which they intended to operate.
As we unwind the cannabis prohibition at the state and federal level, issues like these need to be dealt with. And this one seems to be rather simple. How is the New Jersey Legislature going to deny homegrown cannabis in the Garden State? Just make it happen.
The good news is, it hasn’t been all bad news on the cannabis beat in Trenton. Since July 1, when marijuana legalization took effect, New Jersey has expunged more than 360,000 marijuana convictions while also dismissing pending marijuana cases. The bad news is that expunging their records doesn’t repair the damage done to those 360,000 lives, inflicted by New Jersey’s criminal justice system. To fully correct these injustices of the Drug War, New Jersey must do more than simply expunge some records.
Cannabis reform groups support Gopal’s efforts, including NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project. Both groups advocate for consistent consumer access. For homebound patients who need medical marijuana and for adults who don’t live near a retail dispensary, residents of New Jersey need the ability to grow at home. Yet despite this attention from national groups, the leaders of the New Jersey Legislature just don’t seem motivated to fix this problem.
No one said ending prohibition would be easy. This is what happens when states are left to their own devices without the benefit of a functional Congress. But that’s no excuse for New Jersey to not get this right when the stakes are so high. Real people go to real prison when we get this wrong.
The only New Jersey legislator who seems to be concerned about this issue is state Sen. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth County. He has introduced a bill to fix this home-grow issue, but so far it hasn’t received enough co-sponsors for state Senate leadership to take it seriously, according to a recent interview.
New Jersey is a great place to grow cannabis. But unfortunately, New Jersey is one of two states where adult-use cannabis is legal, but home cultivation is not. It’s possibly the only thing that New Jersey has in common with the other non-homegrow state, Washington, and it’s nothing to be proud of. The good news is: New Jersey can fix it. To paraphrase a former New Jersey official, it’s time for some homegrown in Fort Lee.
So, how did New Jersey find itself in this idiotic situation? Last November, the people of New Jersey voted for a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis. But at some point during the negotiations to draft the enabling legislation, the home-grow provisions were cut out of it. Cut out by whom — and for what reason — remains unclear.
There is no other industry where there is an appropriate parallel. New Jersey residents can grow their own tobacco, brew their own beer and bottle their own wine at home. But marijuana? Forget about it. The Star-Ledger’s editorial board recently referred to this legal disparity as “off-the-charts idiotic.”
Law enforcement is also interested in keeping homegrown cannabis illegal. That could be because police often use the smell of cannabis as a reason to search a home without a warrant. That’s because in most states, the smell of cannabis is still considered “probable cause” that a crime is being committed, which allows police to conduct unreasonable searches without a warrant. When homegrown cannabis is made legal, law enforcement will lose that ability because the smell will no longer indicate that a crime is being committed.