On Friday, New Jersey’s marijuana regulators adopted regulations for “public cannabis consumption places,” moving the state one step closer to allowing adults and patients to use marijuana for social purposes.
The first stores selling cannabis for adults 21 and over debuted in April, but proponents have been pushing for laws that would expand the number of locations where people can legally consume.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approved regulations for consumption sites and taxes for firms operating them on Friday, bringing the state closer to its goal. According to CRC Chair Dianna Houenou’s statement in a press release, “equitable access to cannabis means that everyone who desires to consume has some location to do that” (legally, safely, and responsibly).
“When done right,” the statement continues, “cannabis consumption places may grow the sector while offering individuals additional choices on where to consume.” Under the proposed restrictions, there would be no on-site food sales,
but attendees would be allowed to bring their own food or have it delivered. The cannabis-only establishments were prohibited from selling or using tobacco or alcohol products. It is planned that the application fee, microbusiness licensing charge, and regular license fee for the facilities total $1,000.
They would be equally at home in an interior setting or an enclosed outdoor space. Before voting to accept the proposed guidelines, one commissioner remarked, “I’m extremely thrilled that we’re pushing this forward because it is a safe area for customers and patients.”
“It’s another big step forward for the commission, and I’m thrilled that we were able to get this together in a timely fashion,” he said. The guidelines will go through a 60-day comment period after being published in the New Jersey Register for public review before they are approved.
In addition, at their Friday meeting, CRC authorized 113 conditional cannabis licenses, 8 annual licenses, and 6 conversions from conditional to annual. New Jersey’s decision to legalize cannabis for recreational use follows closely on the heels of Nevada’s announcement of the first cannabis lounge licenses.
On the first of the year, Alaska made history by passing legislation allowing customers to consume cannabis products at dispensaries. Meanwhile, in Colorado, lawmakers adopted a bill that would allow for the legal operation of cannabis “tasting rooms” and “marijuana hospitality establishments,”
where adults would be able to take the drug without fear of repercussion. New York’s recently passed marijuana legalization law also allows for social consumption sites, though it is unclear how soon after the first merchants open this will be legalized.
The governor of New Jersey recently stated that the state should “revisit” its existing illegality of growing marijuana for personal use; however, he believes that this discussion should take place once the commercial sector has been established.
Although federal deductions for the industry remain prohibited by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code 280E, in October the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill that would enable licensed marijuana businesses to deduct some expenses on their state tax returns.
Although the adult-use industry is still in its early stages of development, it has already proven profitable, with the state reporting approximately $80 million in marijuana sales in the first ten weeks after stores opened the business in April.
Over the summer, Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D) introduced legislation that would give the governor the power to join into interstate commerce agreements with other states that have legalized marijuana.
These pacts may be made, however, if the relevant federal statutes were to be amended or the Justice Department issued guidelines allowing for their creation.
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The president of the New Jersey Senate has introduced separate legislation to legalize psilocybin, which contains provisions to allow for the home cultivation of the hallucinogenic.