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New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission Releases First Set Of Rules For Legal Marijuana Sales

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Nearly six months after New Jersey legalized the use of recreational marijuana, the Garden State is one step closer to legal sales in the state.

Thursday, state regulators outlined what the future of the cannabis industry will look like.

As CBS2's Nick Caloway reports, the exact date of legal marijuana sales in New Jersey has not yet been announced, but we're getting a look at the initial rules put in place to regulate the industry.

In a virtual announcement Thursday, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission released the first set of rules.

On the business side, many of the regulations will favor local New Jersey residents with diverse backgrounds applying to operate cannabis businesses.

The commission will also prioritize applicants with previous marijuana convictions to make up for disparities of laws in the past.

There are also rules to protect children:

  • They cannot enter dispensaries.
  • Cannabis products must be sold in child-proof packaging, and that packaging must include health warnings.
  • Businesses will also face severe consequences for selling to minors.

To try to ensure safe use among adults, people over the age of 21 can legally purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis, and driving under the influence is strictly prohibited.

The regulations come just two days before municipalities must decide whether to allow pot businesses to operate within their borders.

Towns that opt out initially can always revisit the matter later, but opting in now means towns and cities are stuck with that decision for five years.

Without clear regulations from the state until so late in the game, many towns and cities have decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

That's the case in the Bergen County village of Ridgewood.

"I think it was important for us, the Village Council, the village of Ridgewood, to take a cautious approach, and by opting out will allow us the opportunity to review the rules and regulations," Mayor Susan Knudsen said.

Seaside Heights also voted no to pot sales and cultivation.

Mayor Tony Vaz said he worries about tarnishing the shore town's new family-friendly image.

"We're looking to show a dynamic of family destination. We didn't want people bringing down their families with younger kids and seeing pot being smoked in public or drinking in public. We don't permit it," he said.

Legal sales of marijuana must begin in the next 180 days.

The cannabis commission will decide exactly when that is.

The reguatory commission says more rules are on the way in the coming weeks and months.

CBS2's Nick Caloway contributed to this report.

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