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Robert Anderson, Co-Chair of Lindabury’s Cannabis Industry team, recently contributed an article on New Jersey’s Cannabis Microbusiness License to Cannabis Business Times.

New Jersey has set aside a significant number of cannabis licenses that will be provided to smaller cannabis operations that can demonstrate established connections with New Jersey along with other requirements.  You can learn more about the New Jersey’s Cannabis Microbusiness license requirements here.

After much anticipation, New Jersey’s Governor Murphy signed the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act” into law on February 22, 2021. While this law made adult use recreational cannabis legal, the extensive law, together with a few “clean up bills,” did a whole lot more than legalization. In hundreds of pages, this law created the broad framework for the development and regulation of the entire cannabis industry including licensing, manufacture, distribution, taxation, enforcement, as well as criminal and social justice reforms for the possession and use of cannabis. It is therefore not surprising that some issues of particular importance to employers, such as drug testing and carve-outs for certain industries, are still hazy.

Importantly, while some provisions of the law became effective immediately, the provisions governing employment and those “activities associated with the personal use of cannabis,” are not operative until the newly appointed five member Cannabis Regulatory Commission adopts initial rules and regulations. These regulations, which will interpret and instruct how the law will be implemented, are required sometime within 180 days of the law’s adoption, or by mid-August 2021.

How does recreational marijuana impact Zero Tolerance Marijuana Policies?

To the owners of family businesses, estate planning can sometimes be an after-thought. Owners are often so involved in building their business and managing its daily operations that they do not have time to devote to the planning that will become important when the owner is ready to hand over management control and ownership to successors. It is often the case with successful family businesses that there has been little or no thought given to the transition of management and ownership, with the result being there is no succession plan in place. Further, available strategies to transfer the ownership of the business to younger generations of the family in a tax-effective manner may not have been utilized.

When a family business is one of the assets, or perhaps the primary asset, a well thought out strategic and financial plan for the business and an estate plan for the family are critically important. The following is a brief and by no means exhaustive outline of some points to consider.

Strategic Planning

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Every state has an unclaimed property program holding forgotten property belonging to its residents such as uncashed checks, security deposits, abandoned accounts, and more. “Unclaimed property” generally refers to tangible (items in safe deposit boxes) and intangible (bank accounts, stocks, and checks) personal property. Eventually, the state takes over the unclaimed property in a process known as “escheatment.”

In New Jersey, the Unclaimed Property Administration is a section of the Department of the Treasury. The Mission Statement of the Unclaimed Property Administration is set forth on its website and reads as follows:

“The Unclaimed Property Administration (UPA) recovers and records abandoned or lost intangible and tangible property. The UPA’s goal is to return this property to the rightful owner and/or heirs. The New Jersey Unclaimed Property Statute ensures that property owners never relinquish the right to this property and the UPA only acts as a custodian until the property is returned.”

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The federal estate and gift tax exemption (known as the “basic exclusion amount”) has increased to $11.7 million per taxpayer in 2021. The exemption in 2020 had been $11.58 million. The increase means that in 2021, an individual can make gifts during life or at death totaling $11.7 million without incurring gift or estate tax; a married couple can transfer $23.4 million of assets. The annual gift tax exclusion remains at $15,000 per donee (or $30,000 if spouses elect gift-splitting).

Note that it seems likely the Biden administration will attempt to pass a reduction in the exemption as well as other changes to the estate and gift tax law during the next two years when there are Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. It is unknown whether any such changes will be made retroactive to January 1, 2021.

We recommend consulting with your estate planning attorney early in 2021 to discuss whether large gifts now may be advisable.

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On December 17, 2020, the New Jersey legislature passed the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (the “Act”), providing the framework for legal adult recreational cannabis use in New Jersey.  The Act lays out the ground rules for licensing arrangements for the cultivation, packaging, distribution, advertising, and retail sale of recreational cannabis to persons 21 years old or older.  Governor Murphy signed the legislation into law on February 22, 2021.

It is important to note that the passage of the Act does not immediately make “street pot” legal—instead, it provides the roadmap for businesses to become licensed so that they may take part in the future legal adult recreational cannabis market in New Jersey.  Cannabis, however, will no longer be a Schedule 1 controlled dangerous drug under New Jersey law (although it remains so at the Federal level).

Although the Act is over 200 pages long, it still requires that the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC”) develop regulations to flesh out the details of how these arrangements will all be put into practice.  For example, there are currently no application forms to apply for any license to operate in the cannabis market in New Jersey.  These forms, their instructions, and a host of other details all need to be developed before any business can apply for one of the required licenses.  The CRC has been given 180 days to develop these enabling regulations and forms.  That said, individuals and businesses interested in entering into this market will want to keep apprised of the details of these ongoing regulatory developments so that they can position themselves to have already put arrangements in place which will allow them to immediately move forward with the application process as soon as it becomes available.

On the heels of President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety directing the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) to issue “science-based guidance” to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure, the agency announced its updated guidance entitled Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace (the “Guidance”).  Along with providing information for employees on protecting against COIVD-19 infection, the Guidance provides additional details on key measures employers should take to limit the spread of the virus in the workplace.

Implementation of a COVID-19 protection program.  Although most employers have already implemented safety protocols in response to prior CDC guidance on reopening the workplace, the new Guidance provides greater details on recommended COVID-19 prevention programs which should include the following elements:

  • Assignment of a workplace coordinator responsible for COVID-19 issues on the employer’s behalf.

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to the general population, the Centers for Disease Control (the “CDC”) has issued new quarantine recommendations for individuals who have received the vaccination.

Quarantine not necessary for vaccinated individuals outside a healthcare setting who meet certain criteria.  Under the new CDC recommendations, individuals who have been fully vaccinated (one or two doses depending upon the authorized vaccine) are no longer required to quarantine for 14 days after exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19 if they meet the following criteria:

  • they have been fully vaccinated , with at least 14 days since their final dose;

A recent decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division serves as a warning to employers requiring  employees to sign a bevy of employment-related documents during an orientation period.  The case, Imperato v. Medwell, LLC, concerned the enforceability of Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate all employment related disputes.

The employee acknowledged that she signed the agreement on her fourth day of employment with the employer.  Immediately above the employee’s signature line was a section titled “Voluntary Agreement,” which read in all capital letters:


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