Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient regional news roundup, highlighting significant developments in the tri-state area and Pennsylvania. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to get the most recent edition when it’s published.
Summer is in full swing and the northeast remains hot when it comes to activity in the cannabis industry. In this month’s regional cannabis news update, we’re detailing plans by both New York and New Jersey to issue more licenses to cannabis operators and steps taken by Pennsylvania to reform its laws for the benefit of medical patients.
More adult-use dispensary locations open in New Jersey
Three more dispensaries began offering adult-use products in New Jersey, bringing the total count of adult-use storefronts in the state to 16. Approved by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) on May 25th, the three Garden State Dispensary stores are located in Woodbridge, Eatontown, and Union.
This is the second round of approvals since the state’s initial approval of 13 locations back in April 2022. Many medical dispensaries in the state are still working to secure licenses to begin selling adult-use products.
The CRC also approved an additional 46 conditional adult-use licenses for smaller cultivators and manufacturers, allowing them to start building out their facilities and growing crops, according to NJ.com. All this news comes after the first month of adult-use sales in N.J. brought in $24 million. Among other upcoming dispensary locations are the Apothecarium in Lodi and Ascend in Montclair.
Connecticut adult-use applicants await licensing
Connecticut legalized cannabis for adult use in July 2021, and applications for Cannabis Establishment licenses became available in February 2022. While cannabis has been legal for a year now, the lottery process for licenses continues.
While there is still no set date as to when these applications will receive approval, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) says they hope to have the first round of licenses selected within the next couple of months.
“We knew there would be a lot of interest, so we need a way to make it fair that people can apply, and we can review those applications quickly and on the way to opening their business,” DCP Director of Communication Kaitlyn Krasset said to NBC Connecticut.
While the majority of applications will have to rely on a lottery system, Connecticut’s law provides expectations for social equity applicants interested in cultivation. Thus far, the state has received 41 social equity cultivator applications. There is no cap on licenses for those who meet the income and residency requirements.
New York appoints Chief Equity Officer, issues more licenses
The New York State Cannabis Control Board has officially appointed Damian Fagon, a third-generation farmer, as the group’s Chief Equity Officer. As the Chief Equity Officer, Fagon oversees the industry’s diversity efforts. This includes the state’s goal of issuing at least 50% of cannabis business licenses to social equity applicants, including those from communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
“Damian’s background as a leader in New York’s Black farmer community, his knowledge of the industry, and his efforts to support farming communities around the world uniquely position him to develop our equity program. We’re thrilled to have him on the board,” Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board, stated in a report from SI Live.
The Cannabis Control Board also opened the application for NY’s conditional adult-use cannabis processing license and approved 41 new conditional cultivator licenses. This brings the total number of approved conditional cultivator licenses to 203. Businesses applying for the processing licenses must currently hold a cannabinoid hemp processing license. If selected, companies will be allowed to process and sell their cannabis products for up to two years.
Pennsylvania cannabis bill could remove zero-tolerance DUIs
A Pennsylvania Senate committee approved a bill in a vote of 13-0 on June 28th to remove zero-tolerance DUI penalties for legal, medical cannabis use in Pennsylvania. While the state currently functions on a zero-tolerance policy, the amended Senate Bill 1206 would require proof of active impairment as the basis for a DUI conviction.
Because cannabis can stay in the system far beyond the time of impairments, and Pennsylvania criminalizes the presence of any THC in a driver’s blood, the bill would act as a way to protect the rights of the close to 600,000 medical patients – one of the largest of such patient populations in the U.S. – in the state when they are driving sober.
“While the responsible medical cannabis patient never dries impaired, the risk of a zero-tolerance DUI arrest and prosecution is one of the most serious issues confronting Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis community,” said state Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46) in a press release. “My bill will protect this community without sacrificing the safety of our roads.”
This change comes after advocacy from health professionals, lawyers, law enforcement, and others who spoke before the committee at a hearing last year. Criminal defense attorney Patrick Nightingale explained the importance of such reform to Marijuana Moment. “This, in my opinion as a criminal defense attorney, activist, and medical cannabis patient, is the most pressing issue facing our 350,000 plus medical cannabis patient population,” Nightingale said.
Stay up to date with cannabis industry news
With state-by-state cannabis laws remaining ever-changing, businesses must stay up to date on news, regulations, and trends within their area. As more state programs continue to progress and change, resources like our monthly news updates are essential to stay up to date and in the know. In addition to following our monthly round-ups, attend next year’s CWCBExpo to network with industry leaders and the startups that are working to grow the cannabis space here at home.