TRENTON, NJ >> New Jersey cannabis regulators today approved rules to establish the recreational marijuana market, prioritizing applications by women, minority and disabled veterans owned companies and paving the way for sales to begin .
A schedule of when people 21 and older could go to a retailer to buy a marijuana cigarette, vape pen, or edible was not given, but chairwoman Dianna Houenou said a date to start after the meeting of the sale has not yet been determined because the Commission wants to ensure that the application process goes smoothly. She said the launch date was “admittedly uncertain”.
“We know there is a lot of interest in getting this market up and running and we were committed to getting it right,” she said in a separate statement.
The five-person commission, which was established by a law of February, unanimously approved the 160-page regulations. The rules were dealt with in an expedited manner in accordance with the law, which circumvented the usual public comment and response deadline.
The Commission’s Executive Director Jeff Brown said the next step would be a notice that applications will be accepted.
The rules focus heavily on what the commissioners called justice – a major driver of legislation due to years of disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws, particularly against black residents.
The rules include priority for applications from companies owned by minorities, women, and disabled veterans, as well as those in poor areas and past marijuana crimes.
Application fees are designed to be low to encourage small business owners, not just large companies, to apply with fees as low as $ 100. Annual licenses for small businesses – companies with 10 employees – cost $ 1,000. Large companies could pay up to $ 50,000 for an annual breeder license.
The regulations will allow alternative treatment centers already in the medical marijuana market to sell recreational cannabis, but only after confirming they have enough products for medical patients. The fees for this range from $ 100,000 to $ 1 million.
Justice aside, commissioners said their focus was on safety, preventing anyone under the age of 21 from entering marijuana facilities and needing child-resistant containers.
The Adult Recreational Use of Marijuana Bill was signed by Democratic Governor Phil Murphy in February after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations with lawmakers. Voters voted 2 to 1 ahead of recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and over on a polling question in November.
New Jersey is one of 18 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized recreational marijuana. More than a dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana.
The law will apply the 6.625% state sales tax to the sale of recreational cannabis. Seventy percent of the proceeds will go to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests. Black residents were more likely – up to three times as often – to face marijuana charges than white residents.
Cities can levy a tax of up to 2% under the measure, although around four dozen cities have already chosen to lock down recreational marijuana facilities in their communities. New Jersey has more than 500 cities.
Also under the draft law, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission can levy a consumption tax, the amount of which depends on the cost per ounce of cannabis. The bill provides for four tax brackets. So if cannabis is $ 350 or more, the tax per ounce is $ 10. That increases to $ 60 an ounce if the product’s retail price is less than $ 250.
The number of licenses for breeders is fixed at 37 for two years. The state Senate didn’t push for limits, but the Assembly wanted the limits.
The decriminalization measure is necessary because the country’s laws make possession a criminal offense according to the legislature, despite the voter-approved change. The measure was passed with broad bipartisan support.