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New Jersey Regulators Approve Final Rules For Marijuana Consumption Lounges



New Jersey marijuana regulators have finalized regulations to allow marijuana consumption lounges in the state where people could buy and use cannabis products on-site.

At a meeting on Wednesday, members of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) voted 4-0 to sign off on the social use rules, which are expected to be formally published in the New Jersey Register next month.

Under the plan, consumption lounges couldn’t sell food or alcohol, but adults 21 and older could bring food or have it delivered if the local government allows it.

Medical cannabis patients would be able to bring their own marijuana products.

Businesses would be limited to owning one social use license, regardless of how many dispensaries they operate. There would be a $1,000 fee for microbusinesses to obtain a consumption area endorsement and a $5,000 fee for standard businesses.

NJ-CRC Chief Counsel Christopher Riggs said that an application portal for prospective licensees will open soon, but “a couple more steps need to happen here,” as Heady NJ first reported.

This comes about one year after the commission first released proposed consumption lounge rules and opened a public comment period.

Commissioner Charles Barker said the application process will involve an “exclusively period for social equity, diversely owned businesses,” calling it a “critical component to establishing equity and level the playing fields.”

Members also have said they expect the addition of cannabis consumption areas will have a positive economic benefit for the state by generating more tax revenue from marijuana sales and annual fees.

Also on Wednesday, the commission approved 70 new adult-use cannabis licenses, including retailers, manufacturers, cultivators and delivery services.

NJ-CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown recently projected that the state is positioned to see more than $1 billion in cannabis sales this year with the growing number of licensed businesses where people can purchase marijuana.

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The state’s marijuana market has continued to evolve in other ways since shops opened. For example, state cannabis regulators started accepting public comment last October on proposed rules to expand the types of edible cannabis products that could be sold at licensed retailers, including beverages, chocolates, baked goods and jams.

Regulators have already waived certain requirements to authorize the sale of additional marijuana edible types.

The NJ-CRC has also looked into adopting new rules that would create a permit to allow “clinically focused” cannabis dispensaries to enter into partnerships with research institutions to carry out cannabis studies using products that they grow or sell to patients.

Meanwhile, New Jersey lawmakers are gearing up for a busy 2024, filing over a dozen bills touching on issues that include marijuana interstate commerce, home grow, banking and employment protections.

Last month, the governor and state attorney general separately announced the recipients of $5.2 million in hospital-based violence-intervention grants funded with revenue from state-legal marijuana.

Also last month, New Jersey opened applications for the second phase of a marijuana social equity funding program, which will make $150,000 grants to awardees and offer eight weeks of technical assistance.

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