After a number of delays, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) voted yesterday to allow seven medical marijuana retailers to sell recreational weed, bringing the state one step closer to fulfilling a longtime Democratic campaign promise.
“Expansion into the adult-use market – with a substantial advantageous start ahead of new applicants – is a privilege that must not be taken lightly,” NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou said in a statement, as reported by Politico. “The NJCRC will be holding these businesses accountable to the commitments that led to their approvals.”
In 2020, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question on marijuana legalization, and the state legislature approved implementing legislation in February 2021. Adult weed use has been decriminalized and legalized since that legislation went into effect.
But recreational sales did not begin as efficiently, and the state’s cannabis regulators have expressed concerns that the existing cannabis industry won’t be able to keep up with demand. Accordingly, the NJCRC pushed back the beginning of recreational sales several times, most recently in late March.
Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), a longtime proponent of legal marijuana, announced shortly after the March 24 NJCRC meeting that he would convene a special legislative committee to investigate the delays in recreational sales. Scutari said yesterday that while he was happy to see seven retailers approved, he still intends on convening the committee.
“I will move forward with legislative oversight hearings so we can get an understanding of the delays, the uncertainties and any obstacles that hinder the full implementation of the cannabis law,” he said in a statement. “The special committee will engage in a fact-finding process with a problem solving mission. We need to find ways to continue the expansion of medical dispensaries to the recreational market and get the adult-use retail facilities up and running.”