Would you like assistance with your New Jersey cannabis business license application? Our New Jersey cannabis consultants have a proven track record of winning New Jersey marijuana licenses (both medical and adult-use), and we’re prepared to help you do the same.

Whether you’re just starting out or preparing your conversion application, you can take the stress out of applying by letting our cannabis consultants in New Jersey manage your application.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about New Jersey’s cannabis license application process, including actionable steps you can take now to improve your chances of winning a license.

However, if you’re tight on time and prefer to speak with our New Jersey marijuana consultants directly, click the button below to schedule a free consultation.

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Cannabis Consulting in New Jersey

Laws and Regulations

To begin, you should read the laws and regulations that govern New Jersey’s cannabis market. I suggest you read the following documents and focus on the areas related to the license application process:

Also, as an applicant, you should be aware that New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission will oversee the adult-use cannabis program, including the scoring and issuing of cannabis business licenses.

Types of Adult-Use Cannabis Licenses in New Jersey

As you read the rules, you’ll notice that New Jersey will issue several types of cannabis business licenses.

In short, New Jersey will issue six classes of adult-use marijuana business licenses:

The state will not cap the number of licenses issued. Also, the Commission will ensure at least 25% of the total licenses issued are issued to microbusinesses (follow this link for a full definition of a New Jersey Cannabis Microbusiness).

Timeline for New Jersey Cannabis Business License Applications

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission is currently accepting applications for:

  • Cannabis retails;
  • Cultivators;
  • Manufacturers; and
  • Testing Laboratories.

I will update this section once the Commission announces the application window for delivery, wholesalers, and distributor licenses.

Eligibility

Before discussing the New Jersey cannabis application process, let’s discuss who is eligible to apply for and receive a license. Basically, anyone can apply as long as your entity is at least 5% owned by a New Jersey resident (no less than two years), none of the owners have disqualifying convictions, and none of the owners exceed the ownership limitations.

An additional requirement for all conditional license applicants (we’ll discuss conditional vs annual applicants below) includes:

  • Proof that each owner of the conditional license applicant who has decision-making authority has, for the immediately preceding taxable year, an adjusted gross income of no more than $200,000, or no more than $400,000 if filing jointly with another individual.

Application Requirements for New Jersey Cannabis Licenses

You have two routes you can take when it comes to applying for a cannabis business license in New Jersey:

  • Conditional License Application; or
  • Annual License Application.

If the conditional applicants are approved, they will then be given 120 days to secure an appropriate site, obtain municipal approval, and apply for conversion to an annual license.

On the other hand, you can apply directly for an annual license. However, the Commission will prioritize conditional applicants over annual applicants.

Should you choose the conditional or the annual application route? The answer is determined by your income. As mentioned earlier, you can only apply for a conditional license if each owner, for the immediately preceding taxable year, had an adjusted gross income of no more than $200,000, or no more than $400,000 if filing jointly with another individual.

Below is a description of what you will need to submit for a conditional or annual license application.

Conditional License Applications

If you go the conditional route, you’ll submit two applications in two phases: the conditional and the conversion application.

You will submit your conditional application first. If approved, you will then have 120 days to submit your conversion application, including proof of municipal approval and site control.

Conditional License Application Scored Measures

  • Business Plan and Management Profile
  • Regulatory Compliance Plan
  • Plan to Obtain liability Insurance

Conditional Conversion Application Scored Measures

  • An environmental impact plan
  • A safety and security plan
  • A community impact, social responsibility, and research statement
  • A workforce development and job creation plan, which include an optional diversity plan;
  • Standard operating procedures for:
    • Adverse Event Reporting;
    • Quality assurance and quality control;
    • Recall;
    • Packaging and Labeling;
    • Inventory Control, Storage, Diversion Prevention;
    • Recordkeeping;
    • Waste Disposal, Sanitation;
    • Cultivation, manufacturing, retail sale, delivery, secure transport, as applicable, based on the class of license sought;
    • Accounting and tax compliance; and
    • The reporting of test results, as applicable, is based on the class of license sought.

Now let’s examine the annual license application.

Annual License Application:

The New Jersey cannabis Annual license application is essentially the conditional and conversion application combined into one. You have to submit all of the material you would for the conditional and conversion application (listed above), but all at once.

In addition, you’ll also have to have municipal approval before submitting your annual license application.

We understand that the information listed above can be a bit daunting. For this reason, we encourage you to reach out to speak with our cannabis consulting firm in New Jersey. We can simplify the process for you and help you win a New Jersey Cannabis License.

New Jersey Cannabis Consulting Firm

Municipal Control of Adult-use Cannabis Business Licenses in New Jersey

Municipalities have a significant influence on who wins a New Jersey Cannabis Business License. In fact, they will report to the state their preference of who to award a license.

Many municipalities will host their own competitive licensing round for a limited number of licenses. These local permitting applications can be more competitive than the state-level application, so do not take them lightly.

Therefore, it is extremely important to gain local support and make sure you’re in compliance with all municipal ordinances.

Our New Jersey cannabis consultants added the list below showing the municipalities in New Jersey that have opted in or out of allowing adult-use cannabis businesses to locate in their jurisdiction (provided by USA Today):

Fees (Application and License Fees)

The infographic below summarizes the cannabis application and license fees in New Jersey:

Priority Applicants for a New Jersey Cannabis License

You can significantly increase your odds of winning a New Jersey Marijuana Business License if you apply as a Priority Applicant.

The rules establish three types of New Jersey cannabis businesses that will receive priority review and approval in the application process:

  • Social Equity Businesses, which are owned by people who have lived in Economically Disadvantaged Areas of the state or who have past convictions for cannabis offenses;
  • Diversely Owned Businesses, which are minority-owned, woman-owned, or disabled veteran-owned and certified as such by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury in one or more of the listed categories; and
  • Impact Zone Businesses, which are located in an Impact Zone, owned by people from Impact Zones, or employ residents of Impact Zones. Note: Under the statute, Impact Zones are municipalities with a large population, high unemployment rate, or high numbers of crime or arrests for marijuana.

Social Equity Businesses, Diversely Owned Businesses, and Impact Zone businesses will be prioritized in the licensure process so that their applications are reviewed before other applicants – regardless of when they apply (click the links above for a definition of each type of business).

For a detailed breakdown of the application priority process in New Jersey, refer to this section.

You should by now have a decent understanding of the New Jersey cannabis license application process. Now let’s discuss steps you can take now to improve your chances of winning a license.

Guide on How to win a New Jersey Cannabis Business License

Our cannabis consulting team in New Jersey put together the following step-by-step guide on how to apply for and win a New Jersey cannabis license.

Step 1: Read the New Jersey Cannabis Laws and Regulations

The first step you should take when applying for a New Jersey Cannabis Business license is to learn the Laws and Regulations. You’ll want to, for instance, focus on both the State laws and local city ordinances.

New Jersey will place a heavy emphasis on whether you are able to comply with the State’s regulations.

Step 2: Choose the New Jersey Cannabis License you want to Apply for

Secondly, you will want to choose which cannabis license in New Jersey you would like to apply for. Each New Jersey marijuana business license will permit you to conduct a different set of activities. You can learn about the types of New Jersey Cannabis Business licenses here.

Step 3: Engage a New Jersey Cannabis License Consultant

At this point, we recommend engaging a New Jersey Cannabis Consultant. You will want to work with a marijuana business consultant that is familiar with New Jersey rules and regulations and has experience in application writing and winning licenses.

Luckily, our New Jersey Cannabis Consulting Firm consists of some of the best cannabis application writers in the world. We helped our clients win New Jersey medical marijuana business licenses, and we’re prepared to do the same for adult-use licenses.

Our cannabis business consultants will manage your license application from start to finish. We’ll also provide executive coaching and guidance on all aspects involved in winning a New Jersey cannabis license.

Reach out today to learn more about our cannabis consulting services in New Jersey and how we can help you become a cannabis business owner.

Cannabis Consulting in New Jersey

Step 4: Build your Team of Cannabis Experts in New Jersey

After you have chosen the type of license you intend to apply for and engaged a consultant, the next step is to build a team. Your team should reflect your ability to operate a New Jersey Cannabis Business that is compliant, responsible, and safe.

Equally important to your team’s experience, is their ability to qualify as a social equity applicant or a diverse owner business (follow the link for the definition of Social Equity and Diversely-Owned businesses in New Jersey).  The State of New Jersey places a priority on Applicants that qualify for Social Equity or Diversely Owned Business Status.

Would you like assistance building a team for your cannabis application in New Jersey? Our marijuana consulting firm in New Jersey offers talent acquisition services.

Step 5: Identify a Location

You must identify a location where you intend to operate your New Jersey cannabis business.

However, we do not recommend purchasing property or signing leases until you have been awarded a license. For conditional license applicants, you only have to identify a location. You have the flexibility to change your location once awarded a conditional license.

Start by identifying a municipality you’d like to operate in. Then determine if that municipality allows for your cannabis business type and how many licenses are allowed. You can follow this link for a map of New Jersey Municipalities that have opted-in or -out of adult-use cannabis. Once confirmed, then you can identify locations that are appropriately zoned and compliant.

After you’ve chosen a location, reach out to the property owner and get a signed letter from them indicating that they are okay with you locating a cannabis business on their property. If you’re an annual applicant, you’ll need to obtain site control before submitting your application.

Step 6: Write Cannabis Business Plan

Your next step is to write your cannabis business plan. You can use your business plan to begin garnering local support and build awareness around your company. If you’re still raising capital, the marijuana business plan will help communicate your project to investors.

Most importantly, you can also use your business plan in your New Jersey Cannabis License Application.

Step 7: Start Garnering Local Support

Additionally, it helps to have proof of local support for the proposed business. Can you identify someone in the governing body that you can get to write a letter of recommendation?

You’ll also want to check with organizations in the community where you intend to operate in. For instance, getting the approval of the neighbors of your proposed facility can lend strength to your application.

Municipal preference will play a huge role when it comes to who wins a license. Learn more about municipal control in New Jersey here.

Step 8: Write your cannabis license application in New Jersey

Finally, you will want to write a competitive cannabis license application. Whether you are applying for a conditional or annual license, hundreds of applicants will apply, so competition is fierce.

You’ll have to write the following:

  • Business Plan and Management Profile
  • Regulatory Compliance Plan
  • Plan to Obtain liability Insurance
  • An environmental impact plan
  • A safety and security plan
  • A community impact, social responsibility, and research statement
  • A workforce development and job creation plan, which include an optional diversity plan;
  • Standard operating procedures for:
    • Adverse Event Reporting;
    • Quality assurance and quality control;
    • Recall;
    • Packaging and Labeling;
    • Inventory Control, Storage, Diversion Prevention;
    • Recordkeeping;
    • Waste Disposal, Sanitation;
    • Cultivation, manufacturing, retail sale, delivery, secure transport, as applicable, based on the class of license sought;
    • Accounting and tax compliance; and
    • The reporting of test results, as applicable, based on the class of license sought.

Have you written a cannabis license application before? The narratives require technical expertise and can easily run into the hundreds, or even thousands, in page count.

Save time and money by allowing our New Jersey Cannabis Application Writers to write your conditional or annual license application for you. We will make sure you receive the highest scores on all sections so that you can win a license and start your New Jersey cannabis business.

Cannabis Consulting in New Jersey

Conclusions from New Jersey Cannabis Consultants

From writing the business plan to recruiting an experienced team, navigating the process of starting a New Jersey Cannabis Business can be daunting.

Nevertheless, you can start applying for a New Jersey Cannabis License today. The more time you give yourself, the higher the chances you have of putting together a competitive application.

Work with our industry-leading New Jersey cannabis consultants to save time and win a cannabis license in New Jersey. We’ll completely manage your conditional or annual license application, including all of the technical writing, garnering local support, facility design, and more.

Additional Information

What is a Microbusiness License in New Jersey?

Are you wondering “what is a cannabis microbusiness license in New Jersey?”

Well, a New Jersey microbusiness must meet the following requirements:

  • 100% owned by current New Jersey residents that have resided in New Jersey for at least the past two consecutive years;
  • at least 51% of total persons, including owners, directors, officers, and employees, shall be residents of the municipality, or the bordering municipality, in which the microbusiness is located;
  • Employ no more than 10 employees
  • Operate a cannabis establishment occupying an area no more than 2,500 square feet
  • Possess no more than 1,000 cannabis plants each month
  • In the case of a cannabis processor, acquire and process no more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis in dried form each month;
  • In the case of a cannabis wholesaler, acquire for resale no more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis in dried form, or the equivalent amount in any other form, or any combination thereof, each month; and
  • In the case of a cannabis retailer, acquire for retail sale no more than 1,000 pounds of cannabis in dried form, or the equivalent amount in any other form, or any combination thereof, each month.
  • No owner, director, officer, or other person with a financial interest who also has decision making authority for the microbusiness shall hold any financial interest in any other licensed cannabis establishment, distributor, or delivery service, whether or not a microbusiness;
  • No owner, director, officer, or other person with a financial interest who also has decision making authority for a licensed cannabis establishment, distributor, or delivery service, whether or not a microbusiness, shall hold any financial interest in a microbusiness; and
  • The microbusiness shall not sell or transfer the license issued to it.

Important to note, a microbusiness holding an annual license may submit an application to convert from a microbusiness to a standard cannabis business and expand beyond the requirements listed above.

Contact our New Jersey cannabis consultants to find what marijuana business license works best for your goals.

Social Equity Business in New Jersey

A “Social Equity Business” means a license applicant or license-holder that meets one of the following criteria:

More than 50% of the ownership interest of the license applicant or license-holder is held by one or more persons that demonstrate one of the following criteria:

  • At the time the initial application is submitted, have lived in an Economically Disadvantaged Area for 5 of the 10 preceding years; and
  • Are, at the time the initial application is submitted and based on the preceding year’s income, a member of a household that has a household income that is 80% or less of the average median household income in the State (i.e. less than ~$72,355.20), as determined annually by the U.S. Census Bureau.

OR

More than 50% of the ownership interest of the license applicant or license-holder is held by one or more persons who are eligible to be pronounced rehabilitated in accordance with N.J.A.C. 17:30-7.12(e), if necessary, and have been adjudicated delinquent for or convicted of, whether expunged or not, in this State, another state, or federally:

  • at least two marijuana- or hashish-related disorderly persons offenses, or
  • at least one marijuana- or hashish-related indictable offense.

For more information on and a map of Economically Disadvantaged areas in New Jersey, follow this link.

Diversly Owned Businesses in New Jersey

A “Diversely Owned Business” means a license applicant or a license-holder that has been certified as a minority business, as a woman’s business, as a disabled-veterans’ business, or as any combination thereof, by the Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services in the Department of the Treasury.

More specifically, at least 51% ownership must be held by diverse individuals, and the daily operations are controlled by one or more of the diverse individuals with ownership.

If you’re applying as a Diversely Owned business, you should begin the certification process now, as it may take a few weeks.

Impact Zone Business

At this point, you are likely asking “what is an impact zone?”. The State, luckily, has published the criteria for an area to qualify as an Impact Zone in New Jersey.

Impact Zones include zones for which past criminal enterprises contributed to higher concentrations of law enforcement activity, unemployment, and poverty within parts of or throughout these zones.

In ranking New Jersey cannabis license applications in respect to impact zones, the commission will prioritize:

  • Applicants that intend to locate their business in an impact zone, and the impact zone has less than 2 licenses so that there will be prioritized distribution so that there are at least 2 licensees in each impact zone.
  • Applicants who 50% ownership is held by current residents of impact zones and have resided there for 3 or more consecutive years (the commission will award 25% of the total licenses to these individuals).
  • Applicants who present a plan to employ 25% of employees who reside in impact zones (at least 25% of the impact zone employees must live in the impact zone nearest to the cannabis business).

For more information on and map of Impact Zones in New Jersey, follow this link.

For Cannabis consulting in New Jersey, please feel free to reach out.  We can break down the best strategy for diverse, social equity, and Impact Zone businesses.

Cannabis Consulting in New Jersey

Order of Priority

The Commission will review, score, and approve your New Jersey Cannabis License application in the following order:

Cannabis Application Writer in New Jersey Cannabis Application Writer in New Jersey

Importantly, Applications from entities that meet criteria for more than one priority status will be reviewed, scored, and approved in accordance with the status of the highest priority.

For example, an application from an entity that meets the criteria to be a Diversely-Owned Business and an Impact Zone Business will be considered a Diversely-Owned Business for purposes of application priority since Diversely-Owned Businesses are of higher priority than Impact Zone Businesses.

Additionally, Diversely-Owned Business applications with more than one certification will be given priority over applications that have one certification.

Priority shall be given in the following manner:

New Jersey Cannabis Consulting team

Bonus points for Annual Applicant

Additionally, in ranking the applications for priority, the commission will give bonus points to Annual applicants that:

  • Include a significantly involved person who has resided in New Jersey for at least 5 years.
  • Are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents or is actively seeking to represent cannabis workers in New Jersey or another state
  • Affirm they will use their best efforts to utilize building trades labor organizations in the construction of facilities associated with the licensed cannabis business in New Jersey
  • Submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering terms and conditions of a specific project. This includes labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities.
  • The commission gives special consideration to applicants that enter into agreements with an institution of higher education to create an integrated curriculum involving growing, processing, wholesaling, distributing, and retail sales of personal use cannabis and cannabis items.
  • The commission prioritizes applications on the basis of Impact Zones (explained below).

Make sure to utilize our cannabis consulting services in New Jersey for assistance in scoring high on a New Jersey marijuana business license application.

Ownership Limitations

First, a person or entity shall be an owner of only one license applicant or license-holder. However, a person or entity may hold ownership interest as a passive investor (less than 5%) in more than one cannabis business or testing laboratory license applicant or license-holder.

Additionally, a license applicant or license-holder shall only have, at most, one open and pending cannabis business license application for each class of license at one time.

If you own or have a financial interest in a microbusiness, you cannot have an ownership or financial interest in any other license type. You are limited to one microbusiness license.

Also, a license-holder holding a testing laboratory license may hold up to three testing laboratory licenses but may not hold any cannabis business licenses.

The ownership limitations for the remaining recreational cannabis licenses in New Jersey are based on the timing of the market, as described below.

Limitations during the 24-month period following February 22, 2021:

For a period of 24 months after the passing of the act, a license-holder and its owners and principals:

  • May hold one cannabis retailer license and may not hold any other license concurrent with a cannabis retailer license;
  • May concurrently hold one cannabis cultivator and one cannabis manufacturer license;
  • May hold one cannabis distributor license and may not hold any other license concurrent with a cannabis distributor license; or
  • May hold one cannabis delivery service license and may not hold any other license concurrent with a cannabis delivery service license; and
  • An expanded ATC license may concurrently hold a cannabis cultivator, cannabis manufacturer, a cannabis retailer license, and additional cannabis retail licenses for each satellite dispensary.

Limitations after the end of the 24-month period following February 22, 2021:

Following the first 24 month period of the program, a license-holder and its owners and principals:

  • May concurrently hold one cannabis cultivator, one cannabis manufacturer, one cannabis retailer, and one cannabis delivery service license; or
  • May hold one cannabis distributor license and may not hold any other license concurrent with a cannabis distributor license; and
  • an expanded ATC license may concurrently hold a cannabis cultivator license, a cannabis manufacturer license, a cannabis retailer license, and additional cannabis retail licenses for each satellite dispensary.

Yes, the limitations on ownership can be unclear. For this reason, we encourage you to reach out for Cannabis Consulting in New Jersey so that we can answer any questions you may have.

Cannabis Consulting in New Jersey

Selling and Buying Licenses (Transferring Ownership)

You are allowed to sell your New Jersey Adult-Use Cannabis Business License. However, there is a fee you must pay and certain time restrictions.

If you transfer more than 50% of the ownership of your license, you must pay a $20,000 fee.

For at least two years after commencing operations, an annual license-holder cannot make any changes to more than 50% of its ownership interest.

Important to note, the majority share of diversely owned business, social equity business, impact zone business, or microbusiness shall remain the same until two years after the commencement of cannabis business operations.

For a microbusiness, you are not allowed to sell or transfer the license (however, you can apply to convert to a standard cannabis business license, which would then allow you to sell).

Reach out today for cannabis consulting in New Jersey!

Resources from our Cannabis License Consultants in New Jersey

Here are some additional resources to help with applying for and winning a New Jersey Adult-use Cannabis License:

Related Articles from our New Jersey Cannabis Consultants:

Julio Soriagalvarro

Author Julio Soriagalvarro

As the Managing Director at Quantum 9, I help entrepreneurs and investors win licenses and start cannabis businesses in medical and adult-use markets. I manage teams that continuously produce cannabis business license applications that outcompete the best attorneys and largest multi-state operators in the world. We’ve helped clients become cannabis business owners in 27 US States and 6 countries.

More posts by Julio Soriagalvarro

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