NJ cannabis commission to soon release industry guidelines as potential business owners prepare
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission is just days away from laying out rules and regulations for the recreational adult-use marketplace, but some are worried that the tight deadline may make the budding industry less accessible.
Towns in New Jersey have until Aug. 21 to decide if they will allow the sale of recreational cannabis in their town. It is on that day that the commission will release the rules for the industry.
“By Aug. 21, they're supposed to drop interim rules and regulations. Then they have a 30-day window where they're supposed to hold info sessions in each county,” says Chirali Patel, the founder of the group Blaze Responsibly.
There are some concerns about tight applications deadlines that could make the industry less accessible and equitable for smaller businesses.
“The market opens up for anybody potentially to enter. When the people have large capital, they can come in and they can win these licenses and so it's leaving… the smaller players, because they don't have a team, because they don't have the resources, they can't compete,” says Patel.
After counties hold information sessions, the next deadline is to turn in the application by Oct. 20. Applications will be available on Sept. 20. But Patel says a four-week application timeline is too short and leaves applicants, especially those applying for micro-licenses, vulnerable to predatory practices.
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“Everybody is rushing to sign up with consultants or attorneys or property to secure it. But nobody has any clue what the application even looks like,” Patel says.
Patel says a growing trend he is seeing in the industry is eager applicants applying for micro-licenses getting roped into flat fees by consultants promising to walk them through the application process for a hefty fee.
“I've been getting people coming to me saying they were quoted flat fees of $70,000 to put together a micro-business license, for one license. These are people who the legislation was supposed to help, the smaller players, the people who were harmed by the war on drugs,” says Patel.
Patel says that anyone looking to get into the business should decide what type of license they want, build a team and then choose a municipality that has opted in.
She also says for future business owners to take their time and do research. This is just the first application rollout. The sale of recreational marijuana in New Jersey is still in its infancy.
Patel says that for micro-license applicants, if someone is charging you tens of thousands of dollars - consider that a red flag.