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Riding the Momentum in New Jersey and Maryland Cannabis Markets

April 22, 2024

The trajectory of growth in the burgeoning cannabis markets of New Jersey and Maryland is unmistakable. With New Jersey’s regulated cannabis sales projected to surpass the $1 billion mark in 2024 and Maryland witnessing consistent monthly growth in its recreational sector, the landscape for cannabis entrepreneurs is rich with promise and potential.

However, amidst this growth, both states face unique regulatory challenges and opportunities. In New Jersey, recent regulatory changes, including the approval of cannabis consumption areas, signal a commitment to inclusivity and consumer access. Meanwhile, in Maryland, debates surrounding zoning restrictions for adult-use dispensaries underscore the delicate balance between regulatory oversight and industry growth.

Navigating this evolving landscape requires understanding regulatory frameworks and real estate dynamics. Whether it’s securing compliant properties, navigating licensing procedures or understanding municipal regulations, cannabis business owners must be equipped with the knowledge and resources to thrive in this complex environment.

New Jersey Consumption Areas & Licensing Trends

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s (NJ-CRC) executive director, Jeff Brown, expects regulated cannabis sales to exceed $1 billion in 2024. This is based on the state’s sales numbers from 2023, which total more than $673 million. Currently, the state is open to applications for various licenses, including cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution, retailing, delivery and testing labs.

In tune with the evolving landscape, Canna Real Estate Group (CREG) is making significant strides in various projects across New Jersey. Beyond managing three licensed cultivation projects and their compliant properties, we’re facilitating direct retail dispensary acquisitions for licensed clients. Additionally, we’re in the process of structuring three new operating partnerships with collaborating licenses.

In the realm of medicinal cannabis, New Jersey’s newly renamed Medicinal Cannabis Program maintains its commitment to allowing patients to receive up to 84 grams of cannabis orders from their doctor or other healthcare practitioner for every 30-day period. In a recent initiative aimed at “improving accessibility and convenience,” complimentary digital ID cards are now offered for new and renewing patients and caregivers. Existing holders may request a digital ID card during renewal with no additional fee. Physical ID cards will still be offered for a $10 charge.

In January 2024, the NJ-CRC approved rules for cannabis consumption areas. These new rules establish an operational framework for medicinal and adult-use operators planning to add consumption areas to their dispensaries. It is important to note that dispensary operators will need municipal approval to have a consumption space to then receive an endorsement from the NJ-CRC. New Jersey remains a highly fluid market with multiple municipalities “opting in,” while other opt-in areas may be posting moratoria to new licensees. Keep abreast of these updates and expand your business opportunities with CREG!

Some requirements for consumption spaces include having a robust HVAC system to ensure proper ventilation and prevent smoke or vapors from impacting neighboring areas. Additionally, as long as on-premises consumption of cannabis is authorized, medicinal and recreational patrons will be allowed to bring in medical or personal use cannabis items. Patrons will also be allowed to bring or order food and non-alcoholic beverages, as the sale of food, alcohol, tobacco or nicotine products is prohibited.

“Having space to consume cannabis is not just about recreation. It is also about providing equitable access and offering people a safe place to consume legal cannabis products,” said NJ-CRC chairwoman Dianna Houenou. “This move holds particular significance for communities that are limited in where they can enjoy cannabis — most notably, renters who cannot consume cannabis at home, unlike homeowners who enjoy greater freedom.”

Maryland Dispensary Regulations

If Maryland HB 805 passes, county governments could have less control over where recreational dispensaries set up shop, as it will make the creation of zoning restrictions for adult-use retailers more difficult. Specifically, Maryland dispensary regulations would prohibit county governments from issuing zoning restrictions on cannabis retailers, which are more limiting than zoning restrictions on liquor stores.

Delegate C.T. Wilson, the bill’s sponsor, clarified that the purpose of Maryland dispensary regulations is not to strip local authorities of control but rather to prevent the clustering of stores in concentrated areas.

“The goal is not to cluster them in one area so they feed off each other. It makes zero sense to somehow crowd them,” Wilson emphasized during a hearing for the bill.

Meanwhile, stakeholders with at least one Maryland marijuana license are celebrating the industry’s success. Since its launch in July 2023, the recreational market has witnessed consistent month-over-month growth, culminating in total sales of $331.8 million by the end of 2023. December emerged as the most lucrative month, recording sales exceeding $96.5 million, with recreational sales surpassing $61 million.

The issuance of MD marijuana licenses persists. The latest lottery, conducted in March 2024, selected 174 applicants across various categories, including micro and standard growers, processors and dispensaries.

Building a Future for Cannabis

Canna Real Estate Group firmly supports its early commitments to the cannabis industry in Maryland, where state regulators continue to review applications and update dispensary regulations. Our knowledgeable staff and precise attention to deadlines have consistently ensured successful site qualification and selection with various municipalities.

Specializing in commercial real estate, alongside offering financial, architectural and construction consulting services, Canna Real Estate Group invites you to meet our team at NeCann, the world’s largest cannabis and hemp convention series. Join us in Maryland May 3-4, 2024, at the Baltimore Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit Booth 619, located along the side wall, to connect with us and discover how CREG is uniquely positioned to support the growth of your business.