Officials from the Cannabis Regulatory Committee faced more than two hours of grilling from lawmakers Friday during their first hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in more than a year.
Legislators weren’t shy with their criticism. They accused the agency of pulling strings to reinstate the license of a major cannabis operator, being slow to approve applications, and holding the cannabis industry back with red tape.
Dianna Houenou, the commission’s chair, and the commission’s executive director, Jeff Brown, lauded the work the agency has done since its inception two years ago. New Jersey has seen 33 recreational dispensaries open, hundreds of applicants approved, and millions in tax revenue for the state.
Of 2,084 applications submitted since 2021, about 679 are pending, Brown said.
“The role of the commission, especially as a new agency standing up this industry, we inherently need to assess and understand what the demands are across the state for our patient community and our adult-use consumers, and then provide regulations and opportunities accordingly,” said Houenou.