In 2020, New Jersey was one of five states in which residents voted to allow recreational cannabis, and adult-use cannabis sales officially began April 21, 2022. More than 12,000 customers lined up in the Garden State, buying nearly $2 million worth of recreational cannabis products on the first day of sales, according to the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). From that first day until May 21, regulators said consumers purchased $24.2 million worth at the 12 dispensaries approved to sell adult-use cannabis. This sales amount is welcomed but is low compared to other states: Arizona reported $32 million in sales in the first full month with 73 facilities, and New Mexico sales reached nearly $40 million with at least 100 dispensaries.
In order to expand options and revenue, the CRC continues to issue licenses for medicinal and recreational cannabis businesses. A New Jersey cannabis business license is required for growing cannabis plants, storing cannabis and cannabis products, making cannabis products, transporting or delivering cannabis and cannabis products, selling cannabis and cannabis products, as well as testing cannabis and cannabis products.
There is not an established limit on the number of New Jersey cannabis business licenses available. By statute, however, the number of Class 1 Cultivators is to be held to 37 licenses until February 22, 2023. The CRC is currently accepting applications for recreational cannabis businesses in the categories of Class 1 Cultivators, Class 2 Manufacturers, Class 5 Retailers, and Testing Laboratories. The fee schedule allots for standard businesses as well as microbusinesses. New Jersey cannabis application fees range from $100 to $1,600, and licensing fees range from $1,000 to $50,000.
A unique aspect of this program is the mandated policy of prioritizing people with prior cannabis convictions when it comes to working legally within the industry. Priority status is set for others as well, including minority-, woman-, disabled-, and veteran-owned businesses, certified as such by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury, plus businesses owned by citizens located in an impact zone, a low-income area more impacted by the War on Drugs.
“Social equity businesses, diversely owned businesses, and impact zone businesses will be prioritized in the licensure process so that their [New Jersey cannabis] applications are reviewed before other applicants—regardless of when they apply,” the state’s website explains. “Applications from entities that meet criteria for more than one priority status will be reviewed, scored, and approved in accordance with the status of highest priority.”
New Jersey is not alone in taking social disparity into account when crafting new regulations and laws, as statistics have highlighted this issue for many, many years. For example, according to the ACLU, Black people are four times more likely than whites to be arrested for cannabis use, possession, and sale.
Education is part of the development process too. Hudson County Community College (HCCC) now offers cannabis-related coursework including an associate degree program and two certification programs. Additionally, the college is offering a four-week non-credit program concentrated on applying for and operating a cannabusiness in New Jersey. HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber said in a statement the college “is dedicated to providing our diverse community with state-of-the-art programs that will lead to success and upward social and economic mobility.”
In an interview, cannabis attorney Jessica Gonzalez, who is involved with developing the college’s curriculum, noted that HCCC’s student body “is primarily Latino students, followed by Black students. It’s an important step for this institution to embrace cannabis to ensure that communities most harmed have access to cannabis education and are aware of the opportunities this industry brings,” she said.
Other cannabis programs within the state can be found at Stockton University, Rowan University, Raritan Valley Community College, and Bergen Community College.
Ready to get into the industry? This are the basics on how to start a cannabis business in New Jersey:
Canna Real Estate Group specializes in commercial cannabis real estate and provides financial, architecture and construction consulting on how to start a cannabis business in New Jersey. With an established presence in New Jersey, we provide property acquisition, licensing submittals and municipal compliance services for our new cannabis clients there. If you have questions about the New Jersey cannabis license types or need assistance with your New Jersey cannabis application, we can help!
The Garden State is on a very strong growth path and we’re very much a part of it! Canna Real Estate Group can help you locate and secure qualified property for purchase or lease, and connect you with the right cannabis industry business and/or construction loan providers that fit your project’s needs. Let’s talk about your project!