The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC”) announced during its November 9, 2021 meeting the dates applications for licenses can be submitted for cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers. Cannabis cultivators and manufacturers can begin submitting their applications on December 15, 2021, while cannabis retailers can begin submitting their applications on March 15, 2022. Below is where you should be if you’re planning on applying:
Cultivators seeking an Annual or Conditional License:
With the statutory limit of 37 cultivators until February 2023 in place, we expect cultivation applications to be very competitive. Cultivators should have already retained a cannabis attorney and application writer, assembled their complete team, and signed letters of intent with the contractors necessary to meet their regulatory obligations. You should have secured a letter of support from your municipality, and received minority or women business enterprise certification if you meet those criteria. You also should have entered into a labor and peace agreement with a union. Further, cultivators seeking annual licenses should have property secured before December 15, 2021, while cultivators seeking conditional licenses should be identifying property and at least be in active negotiations with the owner or landlord. Next on your to do list – plan on submitting all materials as soon as the CRC begins accepting applications.
Manufacturers Seeking an Annual or Conditional License:
There are no caps on the number of manufacturing licenses, so the need to file an application immediately is less necessary. However, with the limited number of municipalities allowing manufacturing, and the limited real estate available, it will be preferable to apply sooner rather than later.
- You should have already retained an application writer/consultant to assist in preparing your application. While an application writer is not necessary, we highly recommend retaining one as it will give you the best chance of securing a license.
- You should have already retained a cannabis attorney to ensure your application and operations are compliant with New Jersey’s laws and regulations.
- You preferably have secured property and ensured the property is compliant with all cannabis-related zoning, or you are close to securing said property. If seeking a conditional license, securing the property is not yet necessary, but you should be in negotiations with a landlord or seller.
- You should be working with your municipality to secure a letter of support if you have not secured on already.
- You have already filed for certification as a minority or women business enterprise if you meet the qualifications.
- You should have entered into a labor and peace agreement with a union.
- You should be prepared to line-up all of the contractors needed for the application, such as a security professional, in the coming weeks if you have not secured those services already.
If you have fallen behind, it may not be too late to seek a manufacturing license – just be aware that as more licenses are granted and less real estate is available, it will become harder to secure a license.
Retailers Seeking an Annual or Conditional License:
- You should be looking to retain an application writer/consultant now if you have not already done so.
- You should be looking to retain a cannabis attorney now if you have not already done so.
- You should be looking to secure property now. There is limited suitable property available, so while there is some time before your application is due, the property may not be available closer to the application date. Remember, there are many restrictions on what property you legally can use, and we therefore recommend retaining a real estate attorney with cannabis experience.
- You should start vetting contractors to provide the services necessary for an application and entering into letters of intent with them.
- You should be preparing your organizational documents, if you have not done so already.
- You should be applying for minority or women business enterprise certification.
- You should be negotiating with a union regarding a labor and peace agreement.
Microbusinesses are unique in that there are no caps on microbusinesses, even cultivation microbusinesses, and many municipalities have created favorable local licensing for microbusinesses. Still, it will be beneficial for applicants to get their applications in as soon as possible. Therefore, microbusinesses should follow the above guidelines for cultivators, manufacturers, or retailers, depending on the license they are seeking, with the understanding that they have slightly more flexibility than applicants seeking annual or conditional licenses.
Other Cannabis License Classes:
The CRC has not issued any guidance regarding the timeframe for whole or distribution licenses. However, we recommend those seeking these licenses begin preparations now, rather than waiting for an announcement.
There is no deadline for submitting these applications, and no hard cap on the number of licenses that will be issued for non-cultivation licenses. However, due to the limited number of towns allowing cannabis enterprises, and the limited amount of eligible property available, we recommend those intending to enter this new market move swiftly to secure a license.