Client Alert: Additional medical cannabis licensing rounds are expected in the next few months in New Jersey.
The majority of applicants who threw their hat into the ring to acquire one of six vertically integrated medical cannabis licenses this summer found themselves on the short end of the stick when the winners of the six licenses were announced on December 17, 2018. As expected, the winners of the six licenses, Columbia Care, MPX Bioceuticals, Green Thumb Industries, Verano Holdings, Justice Grown and New England Treatment Access, are all multi-state operators with numerous licenses.
But all is not lost for the hundred or so applicants who did not win this round. According to NJCannabis Insider, the state plans on issuing requests for applications in the next few months for separate licenses for cultivation, processing and dispensaries. The next cannabis licensing round hinges on the speed of the legislature in passing the medical cannabis expansion bill and the Department of Health’s adoption of new rules regulating the New Jersey medical marijuana program. Those rule changes, in part, will allow the state to issue separate licenses for growing, processing and selling medical cannabis. With the winners of the vertical licenses announced, the rules adoption is imminent. Moreover, if the medical cannabis expansion bill is passed, a request for applications for six additional vertically integrated ATCs would be required within 90 days of passage.
Those eagerly waiting to apply in the next licensing round should expect that the process will be similar to that of the August round. Our current cannabis clients and other license hopefuls would be wise to review the DOH’s letters sent to the 6 ATC winners, which provide some insight into the priorities and scoring metrics in this licensing round. Of note, northern New Jersey has the greatest ratio of supply to demand in the state, followed respectively by southern and central New Jersey. Future applicants should also begin refining their applications now instead of waiting until the RFA comes out, and solidify their leadership teams. You can bet that the competition will be as intense, if not more, the next round.
Contact Eric D. Reiser to schedule an appointment to discuss your cannabis business venture or litigation matter.
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Please be aware that marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance; possessing, using, manufacturing, distributing, and/or selling marijuana or marijuana-derived products is illegal under federal law notwithstanding the existence of any state law to the contrary. No legal advice given by LoFaro & Reiser, LLP is intended to provide any guidance or assistance in violating federal law nor will it provide any guidance or assistance in complying with federal law. By reading this overview, you understand there is no attorney/client relationship between you and LoFaro & Reiser, LLP unless evidenced by an executed legal engagement letter. Although federal policy may, at times, recommend enforcement discretion when a business or individual is in compliance with existing state marijuana law that is deemed to comply with federal enforcement priorities, it is important to understand that compliance with state law does not equal compliance with, confer any immunity from, or provide any shield from prosecution under federal law. At any time, federal and/or state law and policy may change either to enhance or inhibit the cannabis industry.