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N.J. delays approval of first batch of recreational marijuana licenses

NJ expected to approve 1st marijuana licenses 00:24

TRENTON, N.J. -- Recreational sales of marijuana in the Garden State have been delayed once again.

CBS2's Meg Baker has more on what caused it.

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission tabled a vote that would have allowed alternative treatment facilities that already provide medical marijuana to start selling recreational pot. This puts a pause on retail sales for now.

"Our medical patients are our priority. We would like to prevent to the extent possible any supply shortages, long wait times, any other safety concerns that may impact municipalities in which the dispensaries are located in," Commissioner Marie Del Cid-Kosso said.

"We don't want to rush this and get it wrong," the commission's Charles Barker added.

In November 2020, New Jerseyans voted to legalize marijuana. Sixteen months later there is still no marketplace.

The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association criticized the delay, saying the adult-use market will be a huge boon to the economy and create more than 19,000 new jobs.

Robert DiPisa, with the cannabis law group at Cole Schotz, said he thinks it was the right move.

"It's a thoughtful delay, right. If we open the floodgates too early, and we run into some serious supply chain issues, we may have to hit pause," DiPisa said.

The commission did take a first step, approving 68 conditional licenses to cultivate and sell recreational marijuana.

"Award of a conditional license allows the awardee to move forward in the process of finalizing its cannabis business by securing a physical location," said Kelly Anderson, the commission's deputy executive director.

The commission says it is being transparent giving out the demographics of applicants and encouraging others to apply.

"Twenty-eight percent of those persons of interest identify as Black or African-American," executive director Jeff Brown said.

"We hope to se you in our industry soon, especially the brothers and sisters in communities that have been impacted and devastated by the war on drugs. The time is now," Barker added.

The next meeting is set for May, but one of the commissioners did push to meet in April and hopefully approve some of the alternate treatment facilities to sell recreationally and get things going.

The commission plans to meet with alternative treatment facilities that applied to sell recreational marijuana to go over how to meet patients' needs before selling to other consumers.

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