New Jersey is close to introducing regulations that will allow retail cannabis dealers and medical cannabis businesses to set up public consumption zones.
The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) unanimously approved regulations regarding places of public consumption at a public meeting this month.
The commission said the proposed rules “provide statutory requirements for cannabis consumption areas, an application fee structure and detailed information” on how consumption facilities must operate. A CRC spokesman said the organization will post details of the proposal to the New Jersey Register, a free public access site, on Thursday.
The public will have 60 days to comment before the commission votes to accept the proposals,
“It’s a great idea,” said Lemar Boone Jr., owner of adult cannabis retailer Cuzzies.
“I think we should have places where we can eat safely that are out of the way … that can’t cause trouble for other people,” Boone Jr. said.
Cuzzies, a young, minority-owned startup in Pennsauken, received a conditional retail license from the CRC in July. Boone Jr. noted that most of the facilities currently allowed to sell cannabis are large out-of-state corporations known as multi-state operators, which he was “a little disappointed” about — especially considering that leaders of the New -Jersey say they are committed to social justice while developing the market.
He also said it could hinder some budding entrepreneurs who face challenges securing the funds and real estate needed to launch a successful venture.
The New Jersey General Assembly is scheduled to vote on legislation that supporters, like Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer), say will ensure that minority- and women-owned businesses have better “opportunities to participate as in both the medical and adult cannabis industries.”
It revises existing rules by allowing minority-owned cannabis investors and groups to own up to 35% of the shares in seven retail cannabis businesses, according to the bill – provided the retail licensee also certified as a minority-owned business.
“It allows a foundation or a licensed cannabis organization to invest in a certified minority business, women-owned business or disabled veteran business,” Reynolds-Jackson said. “A cannabis market should be good for justice, but we are finding that the cost of entry is too high for some people. Hopefully, this law will help level the playing field for everyone. We want to ensure that those most affected by the war on drugs and our underserved communities have the opportunity to participate in this process.”
The Senate has yet to hear the bill in committee.
“New Jersey has done a very good job of issuing these conditional licenses,” Boone Jr. said. “Once the conditional licenses have been handed out in New Jersey, there is nothing to keep moving forward.”
This article first appeared on WHY.org.