The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will likely be one of the power centers of state government following a deal between Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders to legalize marijuana in New Jersey.
The commission will issue licenses and regulate the industry in a manner akin to the Casino Control Commission in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The draft version of the bill gives them investigatory authority in the prosecution of violations.
The current agreement calls for a five-member full-time commission. Murphy will get three seats, including the chairmanship, with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin each getting one.
Serving on the commission will carry a two-year ban on joining the cannabis industry after they leave office, but there is no apparent waiting period for an elected official or state employee to jump to the regulatory side.
The hidden jewel in bill is the post of executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Murphy will appoint the executive director with the advice and consent of the Senate and serves at the pleasure of the governor – until the governor leaves office and a successor is nominated and confirmed. The governor sets the salary for that post, although it is capped at $125,000.