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. 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.
The Act is quite lengthy, and covers a broad range of areas relevant to the development of the legal adult recreational cannabis market and related social justice issues. The following is not an attempt to fully summarize the Act, but instead simply covers in broad strokes some of the main elements of the arrangements provided for in the Act relevant to businesses that wish to enter into the market.