New Jersey Readies Rules For On-Premise Cannabis LoungesJanuary 24, 2023
New Jersey’s recreational cannabis industry is up and running following the advent of sales last year, and sales have been advancing strongly in recent months.
Still, regulators are still working to fine tune various parts of the law. One major component now receiving attention are the rules governing cannabis consumption areas, public spaces where people can imbibe beyond their private residences. Cannabis lounges mark another important step toward the normalization of cannabis use in social settings.New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) has now released draft rules for these social spaces, setting a two-month window for public comment. The provisions include the following: Patrons must be 21 years or older and photo identification must be required for entry into cannabis consumption areas; there may be no sale of tobacco products and alcohol on the premises; dispensaries may not sell food but patrons may bring their own food in or have food delivered there; consumption areas may be indoors or outdoors; and a cannabis business can operate only one cannabis consumption area, regardless of the number of Class 5 Retailer licenses the business holds. That last point is of particular note, as it will limit retailers with multiple outlets to a single lounge statewide, potentially limiting the number of locations that eventually open.
The state expects consumption spaces to further boost cannabis sales in the state and to create additional jobs in the industry as operators will need to hire dedicated staff for them. Recreational sales are humming along as the market gets off the ground, with the CRC reporting last month that recreational cannabis sales from July through September last year totaled $116.6 million, up 46% from the prior three months. That figure indicates the strong demand among New Jersey consumers despite the lack of retail access throughout the state–only 20 dispensaries were operational as of last month.—Danny Sullivan
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