Firm Cannabis Practice leaders Charles J. Messina, Esq., Jennifer Roselle, Esq., Rajiv D. Parikh, Esq., and Daniel Pierre, Esq. answered various questions impacting the industry in a recent ROI-NJ feature "Cannabis Need-to-Know."
What is a barrier to entry — or an issue most people don’t think of — that needs to be addressed to play in this space?
Mr. Messina responded, "I call it the “Garden State home rule.” Similar to the previous application rounds, you are not getting a license unless you have a “significantly involved person” on your team that has resided in NJ for at least two years. To obtain a microbusiness license, there are even further restrictions. At least 51% of the owners, directors, officers, or employees of your microbusiness, for example, must be residents of the town you’re applying in, or in a municipality bordering such town. Regardless of license type, you ultimately need to get that municipality to approve your desired location."
Ms. Roselle responded, "As prospective business owners develop strategize to maximize success on their applications, the labor compliance aspects can’t be overlooked. Our experience during the last round of medical applications was that this was often a last-minute discussion as the application deadline drew near. Labor compliance goes beyond having a labor peace agreement to submit as part of the application process. The legislation is clear that this document- or the eventual collective negotiations agreement- is a condition of licensing. In other words, the relationship created during application continues long after the application is submitted."
Mr. Parikh responded, "The Genova Burns Cannabis team understands the unique complexities to doing business in the Garden State because for 30 years we have had an active role at the intersection of law, government and business here. Our legal professionals not only have regular contact with regulators and elected officials, but know how to strategically achieve success on New Jersey’s field of play. This unlearnable experience, combined with our understanding of the legal and practical aspects of licensing and operating a cannabis business, allows our clients to seize every opportunity to prevail in their endeavors."
How should those who want to be involved in the industry proceed in the next 12 months as the rules and regulations — and the licensing — are worked out?
Mr. Pierre responded, "As we eagerly wait for the bill and corresponding regulation for recreational use, those looking to be involved in the cannabis industry need to consider these three points. First, determine which of the six licenses you want. As of now, there are restrictions on how many licenses an applicant can have within the first two years of the law’s effective date. Second, develop an experienced application team. Licenses will be awarded to applicants based on their relevant skills and qualifications. Third, find the right municipality. Priority will be given to those applying in towns of impact zones."
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