New Jersey has decided to jump start its adult-use market by issuing licenses to existing medical cannabis operators, referred to as Alternative Treatment Centers (or ATCs). Earlier this month, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) voted to allow seven established ATCs — comprised of well-financed multi-state operators (MSOs) — to begin adult-use cannabis sales at 13 dispensaries around the state. The first sales occurred on April 21, 2022 (the day after "4/20") and, according to state officials, at least 10,000 people purchased recreational cannabis on the first day of sales.
In addition, beginning to lay the groundwork for the broader market, the CRC also recently approved 34 conditional license applications for cultivators and manufacturers, bringing the total number of approved conditional licenses in the state to 102. New Jersey's conditional license program, which is intended to help smaller, home-grown businesses break into the Garden State's adult-use market, offers an abbreviated and less burdensome application process (as compared to the state's annual licensing process). Pursuant to the CRC's recently adopted initial rules, applicants seeking a conditional license need only submit background disclosure information, a business plan, and a regulatory compliance plan to receive a conditional license.
If approved, applicants then have 120 days to find a site, receive municipal approval, and apply for conversion to an annual license. In addition, conditional licensees converting to an annual license are excused from certain sections of the annual license application that, under statute, require applicants to demonstrate past experience in a regulated cannabis industry.