By: Jordyn Raymon
Date: July 30, 2021
As the marijuana industry starts to kick up in New Jersey, many people are discussing the openings of social lounges in local neighborhoods. Once the bill passes, businesses will open up social lounges soon to follow. What is a social lounge? Also known as cannabis consumption areas (or CCAs), a social lounge is a place for customers to consume marijuana on the same premises as a retail location similar to a bar for marijuana.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA), provides licensed cannabis retailers with the exclusive opportunity to open a social lounge. How do you open one? To start off, only licensed cannabis retailers and medical dispensaries can legally pursue opening a lounge. There will be no “stand-alone” CCAs in New Jersey. In order to operate a CCA, the license holder must also apply for an “endorsement” from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) and the local governmental entity where the retail establishment would operate. A local governmental entity (or for example a municipality), may authorize the operation of a lounge for personal use, medical use, or both within its jurisdiction through the adoption of an ordinance. Lastly, 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.
The cannabis consumption area may be indoors in an enclosed area of the cannabis retailer or medical cannabis dispensary, separate from the retail sales or medical dispensary areas, or an exterior structure on the same premises as the cannabis dispensary, either separate from or connected to the cannabis dispensary.
There are a few restrictions when it comes to social lounges, and these are as followed: A CCA and the retail establishment’s employees would not be permitted to sell alcohol, including fermented malt beverages or malt, vinous or spirituous liquor, sell tobacco or nicotine products, or allow the consumption of alcohol or tobacco or nicotine products on-premises, as well as operate as a retail food establishment. These rules are strictly in place for those looking to open a social lounge in New Jersey.
As a New Jersey resident, I am excited to see social lounges open up! Bars are widely popular for adults to consume alcohol in public, and with the expansion of legal cannabis consumption in the state, these lounges will be the perfect equivalent. Will these business owners see a competition for the best night out?
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