Lawmakers hammer NJ marijuana regulators

TRENTON — In a hearing originally announced when the recreational marijuana industry’s launch was blocked, lawmakers found plenty of other ways to criticize the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission during a a marathon meeting on Thursday.

Eight panels of witnesses traveled through the Senate Judiciary Committee’s four-and-a-half-hour meeting that analyzed legal marijuana from a variety of angles, from regulatory delays to banking headaches to challenges supporting startups that better reflect the population. of State.

One of the main issues in mind was price, with New Jersey having one of the most expensive legal marijuana in the country – a trend that won’t subside until there are more growers. , and which keeps the underground and illegal market strong even after the launch of regulated sales on April 21.

Jeff Brown, executive director of the CRC, said it costs between $50 and $65 to buy an eighth of an ounce of recreational cannabis and, in the first three months of 2022, about $40 an eighth for medical users. .

Brown said the price was lower at the start of 2022 than at the end of 2021, due to discounts, and will be closely monitored to ensure recreational sales do not affect this.

“Now we would like to see them go down more, that’s for sure. And that’s why we continue to work to expand competition in the medical cannabis space,” Brown said.

Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, said a subset of people may benefit from dispensary discounts — but at the expense of others who pay more.

“Maybe it’s just the people I’ve talked to who are on this program, but so many people in this program are telling me they’re being denied the ability to access their medications,” said Singleton.

New locations for medical dispensaries were announced earlier by the CRC, to companies that had applied in 2019 but found themselves locked in legal battles.

Lawmakers said the CRC was also moving too slowly on issues such as licensing the sale of cannabis-infused food and drink items, clinical research permits and, most importantly, standards for faculty recognition experts. impaired at work who can tell if someone is intoxicated.

Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, said the rules for the sons, as they are called, must be resolved — and quickly.

“We need a process where employers can follow regulations and be able to run their businesses without worrying about making a mistake,” Bucco said.

Jeff Brown of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission says the work is ongoing and they know this is a concern for companies that don’t want to violate state laws and rules.

“I will note that in our original rulebook, we included one that notes that essentially before the commission adopts these WIRE standards, the status quo continues and companies can continue to test drugs,” Brown said.

The meeting was originally announced when the CRC delayed action to allow medical dispensaries to expand to recreational sales, citing an expected shortage of products that would harm patients enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program.

The CRC quickly called a special meeting and authorized the start of sales in 13 dispensaries belonging to seven companies. One of the sites has yet to open, unable to receive the necessary local approvals, but the other 12 are operating – with steady demand but few known issues.

“There are only minor issues that have been raised,” said Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey. “In fact, with some of the actions CRC has taken, we believe patient access has actually improved since adult sales began.”

Wolski said dispensaries have started offering medical patients online ordering and curbside pickup, home delivery and dedicated outlets in facilities.

Although sales have been launched, Senate Speaker Nick Scutari, D-Union, said the oversight would still be useful to consider issues such as cost.

“I absolutely believe that if we hadn’t started this process, we might not be open today,” Scutari said. “And the state of New Jersey has had sales of millions of dollars of legal marijuana since this business opened.”

Michael Symons is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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