NJ cannabis commission gets going with historic meeting

New Jersey's new Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Monday inched toward setting up the recreational marijuana market, holding its first meeting and picking a vice chair and logo.

Video Transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] on recreational marijuana in New Jersey. Today the state took another big step toward making it possible for residents to legally buy pot. Action New reporter, George Solis, live in Camden tonight with those details. George.

GEORGE SOLIS: Yeah, Rick, it was a historic meeting, to say the least. The five-member commission met today virtually for the first time to lay out some of the challenges ahead of them, including the six months that they have to start laying some policy. The main theme of today's first meeting, equity.

- Today, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission officially begins.

GEORGE SOLIS: And you're now looking at their official logo. Its adoption today signaled the culmination of years of work to establish a recreational marijuana market in the Garden State after voters in the state overwhelmingly approved its use.

- This will not be an easy road to travel.

GEORGE SOLIS: During their historic first ever meeting, the five-member board also officially took over the reins from the Department of Health when it comes to the regulation and oversight of cannabis, including its use medicinally. The ACLU of New Jersey has said they have high hopes for the commission, but officials note the devil will be in the details.

AMOL SINHA: The strength of our industry is going to be dependent on the Cannabis Regulatory Commission and how often we're willing to go back to the drawing table to tweak the laws and the regulations around the industry.

GEORGE SOLIS: Someone who's less optimistic is New Jersey's self-proclaimed weed man, Ed Forchion.

ED FORCHION: I hope all their eyes are open to the fact the black market exists. This is-- they should not treat this cannabis industry like Christopher Columbus treated America and acted like they founded it.

GEORGE SOLIS: Forchion, who runs both a restaurant and an illegal cannabis dispensary out of this building across Trenton City Hall, and soon, this nightclub in Miami, fears the commission will ultimately box out those that have, in a manner of speaking, laid the groundwork for the millions, if not billions, to be made. One of Forchion's major gripes, the law only allows for 37 new cultivation licenses in the next two years.

ED FORCHION: They're trying to steal the existing marijuana market and hand it over to the Walmarts of weed and call that legal.

GEORGE SOLIS: The commission acknowledged their challenges more than once, including an increase in cities and areas in New Jersey working to ban cannabis.

- Wait to see the regulations that we do before making a decision on which way you want to go.

GEORGE SOLIS: Yeah, the commission today also set out their calendar for the remainder of the year. Again, the clock is now ticking. They have six months from now to lay out the groundwork before they can start handing out some of those first licenses. We are live in Camden, George Solis, channel 6 Action News. Shari.