Regional Cannabis News: Sales and Social Equity Progress on the East Coast

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The new year is off to a great start, with legalization and social equity measures spreading across the Northeast region as the adult use market ramps up. Big strides are being made already in 2023, as New York’s first adult use dispensaries opens their doors to begin sales and Connecticut expunges possession conviction records. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s adult use industry continues to evolve, adding consumption lounges to the mix. Read on to learn more about these developments and how they’re shaping the Northeast cannabis industry.

Adult-use cannabis sales begin in New York

New York officially began the sales of adult-use cannabis products after voters approved the adult use legalization ballot in March 2021. Located at 750 Broadway, Housing Works Cannabis Co .made history in the Empire State, opening their doors at 4:20 PM sharp on Thursday, Dec. 29th to long lines of eager advocates and customers. 

“The first legal adult-use cannabis sales mark a historic milestone in New York’s cannabis industry,” Governor Kathy Hochul (D) shared in a press release. “Today is only the beginning, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to solidify New York as a national model for the safe, equitable, and inclusive industry we are now building.” 

Housing Works Cannabis Co launched as a part of the Seeding Opportunity Initiative, the state’s program to prioritize businesses with at least one justice-involved board member and a mission to create vocational opportunities for those with a prior cannabis conviction. All proceeds of Housing Works Cannabis Co go to support Housing Works, a non-profit dedicated to providing housing, healthcare, and vocational training to thousands of New Yorkers each year. The company is also committed to minimizing its economic footprint by sourcing products from socially and environmentally responsible producers. 

New Jersey approves rules for consumption lounges

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approved requirements for the consumption sites and fees for businesses that operate them. 

According to the draft rules, the proposed application fee for microbusinesses and standard licenses for facilities would be $1,000. Consumption lounges can choose to operate indoors or outdoors, but all outdoor facilities need to be enclosed. In addition, food items will not be permitted to be sold on-site. However, people could bring their own food or have it delivered. Alcohol and tobacco would be strictly prohibited at all consumption sites.

“Equitable access to cannabis means everyone who wishes to consume has someplace they can do that—legally, safely, and responsibly,” CRC Chair Dianna Houenou said in a press release. “When regulated properly, cannabis consumption areas can strengthen the industry while giving people more choices on where they consume.”

Before the rules are finalized, they will be posted in the New Jersey Register and subject to a 60-day public comment period.

Connecticut governor clears cannabis convictions

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) announced that thousands of cannabis possession convictions in the state would be cleared in January 2023. The state intends to clear records in approximately 44,000 cases using an automated erasure method as an integral part of the governor’s 2021 legalization plan

According to the state’s online portal, those who have not had any other criminal convictions for seven or ten years (depending on the conviction) and have completed sentences for all crimes for which that person has been convicted will be eligible for Clean Slate. Eligible offenses include most misdemeanors and most Class D and Class E felonies. Residents whose records are erased by the state may tell employers, landlords, and schools that the conviction never occurred.  

How people will receive erasure will depend on when they received their conviction. For example, people convicted of possessing less than 4 ounces of a non-narcotic, non-hallucinogenic substance between Jan. 1, 2000, and Sept. 30, 2015, will automatically have their records cleared on Jan. 1, 2023.

“[T]housands of people in Connecticut will have low-level cannabis convictions automatically erased due to the cannabis legalization bill we enacted last year,” Governor Lamont said. “Especially as Connecticut employers seek to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings, an old conviction for low-level cannabis possession should not hold someone back from pursuing their career, housing, professional, and educational aspirations.”

Stay in the loop with CWCBExpo

In 2023, the Northeast cannabis industry is just getting started. It’s crucial to stay up to date on changes to trends and regulations in your area and beyond to ensure your business is prepared for success. Stay in the loop with resources like CWCBExpo’s regional news updates and annual exhibitions, where you can meet and connect with industry-leaders from across the nation.

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