Yes. Middlesex County permits licensed marijuana establishments with class 1 cannabis cultivator licenses to grow marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. In 2010, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Compassionate Use of Marijuana Act. The Act legalized the use of marijuana to treat life-limiting medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS, chronic pain, glaucoma, arthritis, and migraine. In 2020, New Jersey voters voted in favor of Public Question 1, also referred to as the Marijuana Legalization Amendment. The Amendment legalized marijuana possession and usage for individuals 21 years and older.
In 2021, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment became law and was renamed the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Market Modernization Act (CREAMM). The Act also established the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). The commission is responsible for regulating the sale and purchase of cannabis for recreational purposes. It also runs the state’s medical cannabis program and monitors cannabis business licenses within the state.
The CREAMM Act permits only class 1 cannabis cultivator license holders to grow marijuana in Middlesex County. The state issues eight categories of cultivator licenses based on the size of the marijuana establishment’s cultivation facilities. These tiers are:
Per the CREAMM Act, municipalities may enact ordinances or regulations to govern the number and types of marijuana businesses that operate within their borders. They are also charged with developing rules for obtaining local approvals for marijuana businesses. In cities with no specific ordinances that prohibit marijuana businesses, all categories of licensed marijuana cultivators may operate in such cities' industrial zones. Therefore, although cannabis cultivation is legal statewide, various municipalities and local authorities in Middlesex County have opted to either limit or prohibit the cultivation of cannabis in their jurisdictions. For example, North Brunswick, which supports the operation of cannabis businesses, has enacted Ordinances 21-11a to regulate cannabis businesses. Per the ordinance, cannabis cultivators must hold a class 1 cannabis cultivator license and are only permitted to cultivate and sell cannabis to other cannabis cultivators, wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers. The ordinance expressly prohibits cannabis cultivator license holders from selling cannabis to consumers.
Similarly, Carteret Borough also passed the Cannabis Licensing and Regulation Ordinance, which also supports cannabis cultivation in the borough but limits the number of cultivation licenses issued for the permitted industrial zones to two. The borough also prohibits the operation of a cannabis cultivator within 500 feet of a school or public park. On the other hand, Metuchen Borough passed Ordinance 2020-10, prohibiting cannabis businesses, including cannabis cultivators. Similarly, Cranbury Township passed Ordinance 06-21-08 banning all classes of cannabis businesses in the town.
Per the CREAMM Act, marijuana cultivator licensees may cultivate marijuana indoors or outdoors in secure facilities or properties. However, to grow marijuana outdoors, cultivators must get approval from local municipal authorities.
The CREAMM Act makes cannabis manufacturing legal in Middlesex County and requires all cannabis manufacturers to obtain class 2 cannabis manufacturers licenses. However, the decision to permit the manufacture of cannabis in any municipality is left to the local municipal authorities.
Per the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) rules, cannabis manufacturing must take place in a safe, enclosed facility under the supervision of a licensed manufacturing supervisor. The CRC rules also prohibit the use of potentially dangerous chemicals and other additives with insufficient safety data. For instance, terpenes are permitted in vape compositions, but only in concentrations commensurate with their natural occurrence. Currently, cannabis manufacturers in New Jersey may only manufacture the following types of cannabis products:
In Middlesex County, cities such as North Brunswick and boroughs like Carteret permit cannabis manufacturing and have specific ordinances that govern the operation of cannabis manufacturers. For example, in North Brunswick, cannabis manufacturers may only sell cannabis products to other cannabis businesses, and Carteret Borough only issues two licenses for cannabis businesses set up in its industrial zones.
Cannabis retail businesses are legal in Middlesex County. Retailers must obtain class 5 cannabis retailer licenses to sell cannabis in the county. The local municipal authorities are permitted to develop rules and regulations to govern the operation of cannabis retailers in their jurisdictions.
New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulation Commission rules require cannabis retailers to have effective age verification processes to ensure that only adults who are 21 years and older can buy cannabis. They must also ensure that all cannabis purchases do not exceed 1 ounce per user. The rules also require retailers to educate customers on safe cannabis usage and its risks.
Middlesex County also mandates that all retailed cannabis products be well packaged and properly labeled, and labeling must contain detailed information on the dangers of cannabis use. Some cities in the county have strict operating hours for cannabis retail businesses. For example, Carteret Borough restricts the operation of cannabis retailers to the hours between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Cannabis delivery is legal in Middlesex County for both recreational and medical marijuana. The county permits cannabis retailers to deliver cannabis to its residents. However, vehicles delivering cannabis must have GPS tracking and lockable lockboxes.
To obtain a New Jersey Medical Marijuana Card, the applicant must be:
An applicant who meets these criteria may then:
There is currently no data available to indicate the direct economic impact of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Middlesex County. However, per the Bureau of Economic Statistics, since the legalization of medical marijuana, there has been a steady annual growth of the gross domestic product in Middlesex County.
According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime reports, the Middlesex Police Department made 7 marijuana possession arrests in 2010 and 2011 following the legalization of medical marijuana. Marijuana possession arrest figures for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 showed no definitive trends, with recorded marijuana possession arrest figures of 28, 14, 22, 16, and 20 respectively. In 2017, marijuana possession arrest figure was 53, indicating a significant increase in marijuana possession arrests. However, 2018 saw marijuana possession arrest figures fall to 43 and subsequently to 5 in 2019. However, in 2020, marijuana possession arrests increased to 10.
Similarly, in 2010, there were 2 marijuana sale arrests. There were no marijuana sale arrests in 2011, 2012, and 2013. However, in 2014 there were 2 arrests for marijuana sales offenses. Subsequently, in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, marijuana sale arrest figures were 2, 0, 3, 0, and 4 respectively. In 2019 there was a significant spike in marijuana sales arrests figures to 35, which reduced to only 10 arrests in 2020.
The data available illustrates that medical marijuana legalization had no apparent impact on crime rates in Middlesex County. There is also insufficient data to establish the effect of the legalization of recreational marijuana on crime rate in Middlesex County.