New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission Executive Director Jeff Brown at the July 1, 2021 meeting. Credit: NJ CRC

Last month the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission voted against kicking off adult use sales in the state at existing medical facilities, citing product supply concerns.

But then a surprise meeting was announced for Monday, one not originally on the CRC schedule, begging the question: What would be the topic of discussion that afternoon?

Answers came quickly, as the CRC reversed its earlier decision and green lighted seven Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to prepare for adult use sales after a comprehensive examination of each facility’s ability to handle a new customer base.

“The CRC has assessed the ATC plans against the number of patients enrolled state wide,” said NJ CRC Director Jeff Brown during Monday’s Commission meeting. “We took into account the current canopy, essentially the space they have to grow cannabis and what space will be needed to serve enrolled patients. We have been monitoring supply and I can tell you the amount of supply is going up every month.”

Following last month’s decision to hold off on approving adult use sales, CRC asked ATCs to provide plans for parking, proof of supply, dedicated hours, and in-store lines for medical patients. Now that the CRC is armed with new information, and pending final approvals, Curaleaf, Verano Holdings, Green Thumb Industries, Columbia Care, Ascend Wellness, Acreage Holdings, and TerrAscend will be authorized for adult sales at 18 locations throughout the state.

“We have made significant investments in facilities and personnel,” said Matt Darin, President of Curaleaf. “[Only medical patients] will have access for the first and last hour each day in Bellmawr, Bordentown, and Edgewater Park. We’ve expanded parking as well, reserving spots for medical patients, and are up to 212 spots in Bellmawr.”

The CRC did not provide an exact date for final authorization, which Brown says will include a payment of expansion fees by the dispensaries to the CRC and a final inspection, but he tossed out an estimate of 30 days as a reasonable expectation.

“It’s been a little over eight days since our last meeting,” said Brown. “We did on site visits at all that submitted certifications for inventory and access and secondly plans related to social equity and safety plans. The medical industry, the ATCs rose to the task put before them by regulations and this board.”

The Commission also approved 34 more conditional licenses, 14 for manufacturing and 20 for cultivation. The CRC reports, as of March 30, 732 license applicants.

[See the full list of N.J. cannabis license awardees]

“700 applications and 70 awards,” said Dianna Houenou, Chair of the CRC, noting that the Commission was formed just one year ago. “The Commission has been working with other state agencies to develop a one-stop shop and also searching for existing funds to support New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs. I just want to acknowledge the blood, sweat, and tears poured into this work.”

The time allotted for a conditional license awardee to garner an annual license with no further application process was also clarified during the meeting, with an extra 45 days given to applicants who need it, making the full duration of a conditional license a potential five and a half months.

“Over the last year we have hit several milestones that have been critical in getting us to this point,” said Brown. “The best laid plans are only plans until they come to fruition.”