Legal weed stores licensed in 40 towns in South Jersey. More soon.
Recreational marijuana is coming to New Jersey, but it won’t be around every corner.
In the South Jersey suburb of Philadelphia, 40 of 100 municipalities have opened their doors to cannabis businesses within their borders under the New Jersey Legalization Act, which was signed in February and allowed cities to ban marijuana businesses – but not the delivery of cannabis to residents.
The number of cities allowing cannabis businesses is expected to increase. Some of the 60 who have pulled out, like the town of Camden and Bellmawr, did so before the August deadline to gain more time to draft local regulations, but intend to allow at least some of the six types of law cannabis businesses.
Some local officials in New Jersey, including in Camden, have expressed enthusiasm for the arrival of the recreational cannabis industry as a way to boost local commerce. Statewide, the industry is expected to quickly reach $ 1 billion in sales, boosted by Pennsylvanians crossing the Delaware River. Medicinal cannabis has been authorized since 2010.
“There is an opportunity to move the city in a different direction, to build and grow the economy using this legislation as a leverage tool,” said Dwaine Williams, Camden Affirmative Action Manager and Member. of the Ad Hoc Cannabis Committee, Camden City Council. at a hearing on September 7.
It is not known when sales of recreational marijuana in New Jersey will begin. The Cannabis Control Commission issued draft regulations on August 19, but missed the September 18 deadline to start accepting applications. The commission has scheduled a webinar on October 13 to answer questions from municipalities and candidates.
“I don’t mind the delays because it means people are more educated, that people with unanswered questions have time to research,” said Nichelle Pace, chair of the Camden Cannabis Committee and vice chair of the Camden Business Association.
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The New Jersey Recreational Cannabis Legalization Act was designed to ensure that people of color as well as those who have been convicted of marijuana-related offenses or who live in economically disadvantaged areas have a chance to survive. ‘enter the new legal industry after a decades-long ban that disproportionately hurt black people.
Despite these efforts, experts say it won’t be easy for small entrepreneurs or even experienced sellers in the illegal market – now often referred to as the traditional or legacy market – to break into legal cannabis because they hire lawyers. and consultants to get past the licensing milestone. the process is not cheap.
The six types of licenses under New Jersey law are intended for growers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and delivery services. In these categories, there are standard licenses and licenses for micro-enterprises, which are limited to 10 employees and other restrictions.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission, led by a former New Jersey ACLU attorney, said it would prioritize these applicants, as well as those from areas with high unemployment or large numbers of people. marijuana arrests.
Another feature of New Jersey’s legalization effort designed to level the playing field for small business applicants is the creation of conditional licenses. This gives the Cannabis Commission-approved applicant 120 days to find a city and property where the business can locate.
With a conditional license in hand, a candidate might be able to attract money from investors or “a city might roll out the red carpet because it wants a winner rather than a candidate,” said William Caruso , Managing Director of Archer Public Affairs, a lobbying firm.
Some cities have taken care of their ordinances to promote racial diversity in the industry.
Willingboro, a predominantly black township in Burlington County, wanted to increase the chances that its residents could benefit from starting a marijuana business by offering discounts on the local tariff structure, said Samantha Whitfield, township councilor for the township.
The township has high application fees – up to $ 60,000 – but allows “reduced fees if you are a resident of the municipality, if you employ residents within the municipality, and also if you are a business.” belonging to blacks or minorities, [and] if you’re a woman-owned business, ”Whitfield said.
The same rules apply for annual license fees.
Mount Holly’s order goes even further, eliminating the township’s annual license fees entirely if the criteria are met.
In Moorestown, at least two of the four licenses allowed in the township must be awarded to microenterprises.
“What we really want to do is help entrepreneurs get into this business and give the small business a chance to take off,” said Mayor Nicole Gillespie.
In addition to setting local royalties, declaring which and how many of the six types of licenses will be allowed in a municipality, ordinances do what is typical of local laws.
They show where cannabis businesses are allowed to open, how big their lots are, how far away they need to be from a church or school, what hours they are allowed to operate, how much parking they have. need and regulate signs (no cannabis imagery allowed on buildings).
Crossing this thicket will not be easy for the small candidates.
Unless a claimant is targeting a specific city, finding prescriptions for a wide range of cities is a painstaking process requiring checking each one – or paying for an expensive service.
The first screen for an entrepreneur is whether the city even allows cannabis businesses, said Paul P. Josephson, partner in the Cherry Hill office of Duane Morris LLP.
“Then you have to find an owner who is willing to rent to you. If the landlord has a bank, the bank usually won’t let them lease to you. You have a very limited number of properties that you can enter, and then you have to hope that you have enough parking to meet the need, ”he said.
“It’s not easy for anyone, and those who come to the table with fewer resources are at an absolute disadvantage,” said Josephson, acknowledging New Jersey’s efforts to help candidates who don’t have $ 100,000 to go. to start.
The New Jersey ACLU wants the state to do more to ensure those most affected by the enforcement of the cannabis ban have access to the money they need to start a business in the sector, said Ami Kachalia , ACLU campaign strategist.
ACLU calls on New Jersey legislature to allocate $ 100 million to a cannabis social equity fund, hosted by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, to provide low or no interest grants or loans to disadvantaged candidates.
“Access to capital is a key part of any business that starts up and is successful, and that includes cannabis businesses,” Kachalia said.
City of Bordentown
City of Burlington
Gibbsboro’s Guide to Cannabis
Gibbsboro public consumption
Township of Gloucester.
Zoning of Merchantville
Township of Pemberton.
Riparian land use