September 2023 Regional News Update: Northeast Faces Regulatory Shifts and Licensing Milestones 

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September 2023 brought major changes to the Northeast cannabis scene, as some markets expanded and others faced significant setbacks. Join us as we unravel these pivotal moments and explore the ever-changing narrative of the East Coast cannabis industry. 

NJ set to expand edibles market with newly-approved rules 

In New Jersey, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) made strides in expanding the range of edible products available in the state’s cannabis market. 

In a landmark decision during a September 8th meeting, proposed rules were passed to relax restrictions on infused products and open the doors to a broader array of options for consumers. While the state had previously limited the sales of cannabis edibles to non-food-like products such as lozenges and soft chews, dispensaries can now begin stocking infused chocolates, baked goods, butter, jams, and beverages. The new rules require products to be made uniformly, staff to receive food safety training, and packages to have nutrition labels and expiration dates.

The new rules were approved unanimously for medical and recreational dispensaries. It now undergoes a 60-day public commenting period. 

NJ delivery, wholesale, distribution companies can soon apply for licenses

Starting Sept. 27th, the CRC will begin accepting applications for wholesalers, distributors, and delivery services. While medical facilities have been permitted to deliver to patients since 2020, adult-use dispensaries have yet to allow this service. 

  • A Class 6 Cannabis Delivery license allows companies to deliver cannabis products to eligible adult-use customers on a dispensary’s behalf.

  • A Class 3 Cannabis Wholesale license allows the holder to store, buy, and sell bulk cannabis and cannabis products.

  • A Class 4 Cannabis Distribution license allows the holder to transport bulk cannabis and cannabis products between cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, or retailers within New Jersey.

“The launch of these new cannabis business license classes represents a significant step in the continued growth and diversification of New Jersey’s cannabis industry,” said Commission Chairwoman Dianna Houenou in a press release.

Despite around 70% of municipalities opting out of allowing legal cannabis businesses in New Jersey, the addition of delivery in the state means that these residents in those towns can still easily access cannabis. Cannabis can be delivered anywhere in the state; state law does not allow municipalities to restrict delivery services from delivering products to residents of their municipalities.

At first, the NJCRC will exclusively accept social equity applications from business owners with prior convictions for cannabis offenses. Diversely-owned enterprises, encompassing minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned businesses, will have the opportunity to apply starting December 27th. Other interested parties will be able to submit their applications beginning March 27th, 2024. 

CAURD lawsuit continues to drag on in New York

Last month, Judge Kevin Bryant ordered the NYS Cannabis Control Board (CCB) and Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to halt awarding or further processing any more conditional adult use retail dispensary (CAURD) licenses after a lawsuit brought by four New York veterans. They argued that the CAURD program, designed for entrepreneurs affected by cannabis enforcement, is unconstitutional.

The order continues to stall the rollout period of adult-use cannabis dispensaries, with hundreds of license holders unable to open their doors. 

While these businesses will have the opportunity to re-apply for general licensing in October 2023, the program expansion opens the doors for the state’s medical cannabis operators and large MSOs to apply. As regulators keep their doors open for retail or microbusiness applications until Dec. 23rd, 2023, concerns linger over how this might affect small businesses like CAURD applicants. More decisions are expected from the court throughout the remainder of 2023.

PA Senate Moves to Increase Medical Cannabis Access  

The Pennsylvania State Senate has passed Senate Bill 773, a measure that could reshape the state’s medical cannabis landscape. The bill proposes that all licensed cannabis grower-processors in the state be granted dispensary permits, thereby enabling them to serve medical cannabis patients directly. It received a 44-3 bipartisan vote. 

This marks a departure from the current framework established by PA’s Medical Marijuana Act of 2016, which restricts the number of grower/processor license holders with dispensary privileges to just five out of the 25 total. The remaining license holders are currently obligated to distribute their products through retail dispensaries, acting as intermediaries. 

The system has received criticism for fostering a near-monopoly, prompting lawmakers to advocate for such a corrective measure. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Gebhard (R-48), will head to the House next. 

Stay in the loop with updates you can trust

As we wrap up this month’s update, it’s evident that the Northeast cannabis industry is brimming with potential and challenges alike. Staying well-informed amidst these shifts is paramount, and trustworthy sources are essential. You can always rely on CWCBExpo’s monthly updates to serve you relevant industry news.

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