How to Open a Cannabis Dispensary in New Jersey

March 10, 2021 Cannabis Business, Entrepreneurs, Legalization

You’re curious about how to open a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey. As with any business-minded person, you’ve seen the successful cannabis entrepreneurs in other states, and now that the New Jersey adult-use cannabis market is legal, you’re wondering if you can achieve similar profits.

Opening a cannabis business in New Jersey is an exciting experience. However, it will take some careful planning to ensure success. After New Jersey voted and passed a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational cannabis on November 3rd, 2020, it’s safe to say we can expect big things to come to the Garden State.

This vote was surprisingly supportive of legalization because:

  • Most New Jersey residents support legalization. A recent survey revealed a whopping 61 percent of New Jersians favor legalization.
  • New Jersey’s dwindling tax revenue and increase in costs during the COVID-19 pandemic have the state looking for other sources of revenue. As the pandemic continues, it will become more challenging, and the state will have to find a way to replace some primary tax revenue sources.
  • Governor Phil Murphy is pro-legalization. His support has not gone unnoticed, especially following his statement that legalizing is “smart” and a “no-brainer.”
  • Most people support criminal justice reform. With this in mind, the state is being pressured to legalize because imprisoning people over cannabis is irresponsible.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into existence in July 2019. Through this bill, he hoped to make cannabis medical treatment more affordable and accessible. The main highlights include:

  • Letting physician’s assistants and advanced practicing nurses prescribe medical marijuana to patients
  • Employer protections
  • Permitting treatment for patients for up to a year

New Jersey Dispensaries have also seen some positive legislative changes from this act, including:

  • Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) – The CRC has been established as the regulatory commission in the New Jersey Department of Treasury. This organization is now responsible for the medical marijuana program in New Jersey.
  • Price Lists – These require dispensaries to provide a price list of all medical marijuana products offered listed on their website. They must stick to these pricing lists and are only allowed to change their pricing once per month.
  • Home Delivery – New Jersey Dispensaries now have a set of regulations to permit deliveries to patients.

How to Open a Cannabis Dispensary in New Jersey: The Potential

Many entrepreneurs want to learn how to open a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey because of the opportunity at hand. MJ Biz Daily reported that it believes New Jersey’s recreational market is an untapped industry that’s bound to be worth between $1.2 and $1.5 billion by 2023. Thus, New Jersey’s cannabis sector could be one of the most significant markets in the US within a few short years.

The Garden State has 9 million residents, and it attracts millions of visitors annually. Let’s not forget about the higher income leading to more disposable income. With this information, there’s no doubt that opening a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey will be one of the most lucrative ventures in the state.

New Jersey also aims to increase its tax revenue substantially with its adult-use market. The state will likely bring in around $300 million in tax revenue annually. But this could be a low-ball statistic. This dwarfs Colorado’s cannabis tax revenue by more than twice as much.

Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws for New Jersey Cannabis Dispensaries

Even though New Jersey has already voted to legalize adult-use marijuana, some local municipalities have banned or restricted these operations. The municipalities anticipated legalization, knowing that they did not want to allow it within their borders.

For this reason, opening a dispensary in New Jersey may prove challenging. Even if it’s a medical cannabis business, you could see some pushback. At this point, we’ve seen 60 municipalities with bans on cannabusinesses.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in New Jersey

While you might wonder how to open a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, you may also be curious about the medical marijuana dispensaries already operating. Since passing the 2010 Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, medical cannabis has been offered to treat patients with cancer, MS, glaucoma, seizure disorder, HIV/AIDS, severe muscle spasm, Lou Gehrig’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, and other terminal illnesses. Eventually, PTSD, Tourette’s, autism-related anxiety, Alzheimer’s-related anxiety, chronic pain, and migraines became part of this list.

The program expanded rather fast, with over 95,000 medical marijuana patients in New Jersey. While the state stopped accepting license applications for medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey on August 27, 2019, the state’s attention is now focused on full legalization.

Even with this being the case, there’s still some information covering the requirements to start a medicinal marijuana business in New Jersey.

NJ medical cannabis licenses have already been given to Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC). These businesses do the following:

  • Cultivate
  • Manufacture
  • And/or dispense medical marijuana and paraphernalia to patients holding MMJ cards in New Jersey

How to Get an ATC License in NJ

Applicants for ATC licenses must make two payments with their application. The first is a $2,000 payment; the second is an $18,000 payment. However, the $18,000 payment is refundable if the license is denied.

How to Open a Recreational Dispensary in New Jersey

Now that New Jersey voted with overwhelming support for recreational marijuana legalization in November, we’re still waiting for more insight. This is what we know at this point:

The Requirements to Get a Cannabis Business License in New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy put the Cannabis Regulatory Commission in place to oversee New Jersey’s cannabis marketplace. This was announced on November 6th, 2020, and Dianna Houenou will serve as chair while Jeff Brown serves as Executive Director. Krista Nash will serve as a commission member for the CRC, as well.

Once New Jersey legalized adult-use cannabis, the state created Bill S21. This bill was meant for the vote on November 21, 2020. However, the vote was delayed. And once the bill was debated for some time, the state legislature and later Governor Murphy approved some bills to regulate cannabis sales for anyone over 21 years of age.

Looking at how the current bills are being debated, we know a few things about the requirements to get a cannabis business license in New Jersey.

For recreational license requirements in New Jersey, the current bill says this will likely become the method:

“Each license application shall be scored and reviewed based upon a point scale with the commission determining the number of points, the point categories, and the system of point distribution by regulation. The commission shall assign points and rank [all] applicants [, from the most to the least points,] according to the point system.”

This point system approach is similar to what we’ve observed happening in other legalized states. The applications are graded using a point system that takes several characteristics into account, including the applicant and his or her team’s expertise, experience, and credentials spanning an assortment of topics.

These are some of the topics you could be graded on:

  • Cybersecurity plan
  • Environmental impact plan
  • Safety and security procedures
  • Procedures reporting adverse events
  • Emergency management plan
  • Diversion prevention
  • Sanitation practices plan
  • Proof of financial competence to carry out plans

Besides your direct cannabis expertise, you’ll need to be competent on a wide assortment of topics. The reason? Firm understandings of these topics can assist in running successful cannabis operations in New Jersey, and knowledge gaps can be detrimental to long-term success.

As We have the answers to some of the most common New Jersey cannabis business questions, including:

  • What are the requirements to open a dispensary in New Jersey?
  • How much will it cost to open a dispensary in New Jersey?
  • When will new cannabis license applications be available in New Jersey?
  • Where can I open a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey?
  • What are the tax implications for opening and operating a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey?
  • How do I open a medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey?
  • And others.

We’re expecting New Jersey to have an incredible year as recreational cannabis legalization gains traction, and we’re excited to support new and established canna-companies!

If you’re considering operating a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, contact us for CPA expertise to ensure you’re compliant and successful in your endeavor.