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Understanding New Jersey’s Proposed Cannabis Laws

While medical marijuana is currently permitted for approved patients in New Jersey, recreational use remains illegal. However, that is about to change.

On November 26, a state senate committee took a major step toward legalizing recreational marijuana by voting in favor a bill that would legalize and regulate cannabis businesses. It would create a licensing structure that would allow approved businesses to open grow facilities, processing, wholesaling and retail sales.

The bill faces several more hurdles before it becomes law, but proponents are optimistic. Once the bill passes, it will open up vast opportunities for businesses in the cannabis industry. But with that opportunity comes risk.

Applicants for licensees would be subject to a thorough approval process that includes background checks, residency requirements, and other requirements. Once licensed, businesses would be required to meet strict regulatory requirements.

The prospect of navigating such regulations at the state level can be daunting. The federal government’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance further complicates the task. And the unique challenges posed by federal taxation of cannabis business adds yet another layer of uncertainty.

However the success of the cannabis industry in other states serves as a reminder that with proper planning and an understanding of the issues, such businesses will not only survive. They will thrive. In 2017, dispensaries in Colorado reported over $1 billion in sales.

Preparing to enter the legal cannabis business in New Jersey requires meticulous planning and an understanding of the challenges presented by this new and quickly changing industry.

Robert W. Ratish practices business law in New Jersey and is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association Cannabis Law Committee. To schedule a consultation, call 973-415-6400.

Cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Although the sale and use of cannabis may be legal in some states, it is currently illegal in New Jersey and under federal law. The Law Office of Robert W. Ratish works with clients to understand current and proposed state regulation of the sale of cannabis with the understanding that any such sale or use remains illegal under federal law.