Lawmakers question NJ Cannabis Commission head weeks after recreational pot sales begin
It has been less than a month since recreational marijuana sales started in New Jersey. Lawmakers had a lot of questions for the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission during a hearing Thursday.
“Our rollout was pretty consistent and fast when you compare it to other states,” said Jeff Brown, the commission's executive director.
Brown answered questions posed by a state Senate panel under oath.
“The purpose of this hearing is informational,” said Democratic state Sen. Brian Stack.
Brown defended the progress made in New Jersey's new cannabis market.
“It’s simple supply and demand. We have a lot of demand and limited supply,” Brown said.
Democratic Senate President Nick Scutari called for the hearings after becoming frustrated by the delays in the industry’s rollout.
“This was a really long haul, decades of work into this, starting with me,” he said.
But with the successful start of retail sales on April 21, the hearing tackled other marijuana issues.
“State law included a number of provisions to ensure diversity and equity in the cannabis industry and yet it remains a largely white business,” said Stack.
“The way we get this market to where it needs to be is focused on equity, focused on licensing new businesses, particularly social equity businesses,” said Brown.
Republicans objected to unresolved issues like how workplaces can handle employees who test positive for cannabis consumption.
“You can see our frustration. We feel like these questions maybe should have been answered before we authorized sales,” said Republican state Sen. Kristin Corrado.
Democratic Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh praised the dispensary in his city that's doing brisk medicinal and now retail business.
“I don't want to make Paterson cannabis city, but I don't want to discourage anyone either,” Sayegh said.
Brown says marijuana sales are estimated to bring $19 million into the state by the end of June. Estimates for what the first-year revenues will look like won't be available for several months. Brown also told Republican state Sen. Jon Bramnick that the CRC collects regular reports on how many people have suffered adverse effects from marijuana use.