When I last wrote my blog post, “New Jersey Marijuana Social Lounges,” in November 2018, the NJ adult-use recreational bill was in its infancy. Now that the state has finally legalized marijuana under the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (“CREAMMA”), I am duty-bound to update the blog on “cannabis consumption areas” or “CCAs” as defined in CREAMMA.
Many clients have recently asked me, “How do I open a marijuana social lounge?” The short answer is you will need to apply for a cannabis retail license when the applications are published by the newly created New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“CRC”).
So, How Do You Open Marijuana Social Lounges?
Fortunately, CREAMMA provides licensed cannabis retailers with the exclusive opportunity to offer one social space for patrons to consume marijuana on the same premises as the retail location – “cannabis consumption areas” (or “CCAs”) – like a bar allows patrons to consume alcohol. Sounds pretty cool, right? But wait, this is New Jersey, so one should expect government red tape before advertising the grand opening.
Under CREAMMA, only licensed cannabis retailers and medical dispensaries can even pursue legally opening a CCA. There will be no “stand-alone” CCAs in New Jersey.
Essentially, a CCA is a designated space operated by a licensed cannabis retailer or medical cannabis dispensary, for which both a state and local government “endorsement” (i.e., formal approval) has been obtained.
A local governmental entity (a/k/a “a municipality”) may authorize the operation of a CCA for the personal use, medical use, or both personal use and medical use of cannabis within its jurisdiction through the adoption of an ordinance.
In order to operate a CCA under a cannabis retail license, the license holder must also apply for an “endorsement” from the CRC and the local governmental entity where the retail establishment would operate. The cannabis retail license holder is prohibited from operating a CCA without both state and local approval.
Under CREAMMA, the CCA endorsement from the state and municipality is valid for one year and may be renewed annually upon the renewal of the cannabis retail license or the medical cannabis dispensary’s permit.
Some More Details, You Ask?
The CCA may be either 1) an indoor structurally enclosed area of the cannabis retailer or medical cannabis dispensary that is separate from the retail sales or medical dispensary area; or 2) an exterior structure on the same premises as the cannabis retailer or medical dispensary, either separate from or connected to the cannabis retailer or medical dispensary, at which cannabis items or medical cannabis either obtained from the retailer or medical dispensary or brought by a person to the CCA, may be consumed.