Regulators give NJ cannabis lounges green light, but they won't open for another year

A man smokes marijuana at a cannabis lounge in Bangkok, Thailand.
A man smokes marijuana at a cannabis lounge in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo credit Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via Getty Images

SOUTH JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — Pot lounges could soon be coming to New Jersey. Cannabis regulators have given approval to the idea, but it will be a while before anything like this can open for business.

Such public cannabis consumption areas are part of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s commitment to equity, justice and public health, says Chairwoman Dianna Houenou: “Equitable access to cannabis means everyone who wishes to consume has some place they can do that — legally, safely, and responsibly.”

However, there are still a number of unanswered questions. What extra inspections and approvals are needed for this type of establishment? What towns are going to allow them? These and other details will be worked out in the coming months.

“Local governments know how to approve the notion of consumption lounges and come up with their own local guidance as to how the consumption lounges will be operated,” said Ed DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association.

Just like breweries, cannabis lounges will not be allowed to prepare or serve food, but customers can order for delivery.

Ed DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, says not everyone is able to smoke at home. Some federal or group homes do not allow residents to smoke there, so these places are necessary.

“It does mitigate circumstances where someone in subsidized housing could partake without fear of losing their home,” DeVeaux said.

Another issue is driving, which of course is illegal if you’re intoxicated. DeVeaux says it’s time to normalize marijuana consumption, like alcohol, as acceptable for adults to enjoy responsibly.

“The people in consumption lounges do have a responsibility to make sure that people do not over-consume,” DeVeaux said.

“Uber, or use other car services, to get to and from the place that they are going to enjoy or imbibe in adult substances.”

There is a 60-day public comment period before any applications for consumption lounge licenses can be approved. And then it will take close to a year before any lounges can open because there are a lot of state and local inspections to pass, and not all of the rules are set in stone.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto via Getty Images