Most edibles out as NJ opts for slow start to legal marijuana
TRENTON – Early next year or sooner, whenever legal sales of recreational marijuana begin in New Jersey, the dispensary shelves will not include some products that have proven popular in other states with state-regulated cannabis marketplaces.
Brownies are out, cookies are out, gummies are out – though lozenges are in.
However, unlike the industry’s frustration with the state’s handling of license applications – which includes still not awarding winners from a 2019 solicitation that for a time was delayed by lawsuits, as well as missing this weekend’s start for accepting new applications – groups seem generally OK with the state’s go-slow approach.
Edmund DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said the limits on edibles were not a surprise and reflect the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s attempt to balance citizen concerns with responsible commerce.
“This is an opportunity for people to get used to the notion of legalized cannabis without having to worry about the children or seniors and them accessing edibles, sweets, anything that contains THC, whether intentionally or accidentally,” DeVeaux said.
DeVeaux said the rules are stricter than those in other states but that some places that legalized marijuana have experienced upticks in emergency room visits.
“Simply because people, adults especially, tried an edible or an ingestible and they felt different for the first time or different for the first time in a long time,” DeVeaux said. “The good news is those people got water, rested and went home.”
“Even the one emergency room visit would have been a cause for concern in some communities, so this way we avoid that,” he said.
DeVeaux said the rules will change the business plans for some license applicants that planned to emphasize edibles – but that the rules also may change by the end of next summer, as they are interim rules in effect for one year. Legal sales might not begin until February, anyway.
“It’ll look fairly medicinal, as opposed to culinary,” DeVeaux said. “And once people feel comfortable and have confidence that we’re doing the right thing, then I think we’ll be able to move forward with products that are more appealing to the adult community and to patients.”
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.