Dispensary tips

The ultimate guide to applying for a recreational cannabis license in New Jersey

By
Dutchie
May 27, 2022

We teamed up with Cannaspire’s Vice President of Regulatory Compliance to understand what it takes to win a retail license in New Jersey. 

New Jersey licensing recently opened

On March 15, 2022, New Jersey began accepting Class 5 Retailer License applications, meaning dispensary owners will be allowed to purchase recreational cannabis from licensed cultivators, manufacturers, or wholesalers and sell those products to consumers at permitted storefronts. In addition to annual licensing, the state also offers conditional licenses that are expedited and temporary measures if you don’t have a location or municipal support for your retail business just yet.

Priority applications in New Jersey are available for:

  • Diversely-owned businesses (women or minority-owned & registered with the WBENC)
  • Social equity businesses (impacted by previous cannabis laws)
  • Impact zone businesses (economically disadvantaged areas that need development)

Regardless of whether you’re aiming for a conditional license, a priority license, or the Class 5 Annual License, you’ll need a surefire business plan and an in-depth understanding of the journey ahead. Together with Cannaspire, we’ve broken it down for you.

Understanding start-up costs

The standard Retailer Licensing Fee in New Jersey is $10,000. That’s just the tip of the iceberg: overall start-up costs for opening a dispensary in New Jersey can range significantly depending on how elaborately you want to design it and how large your operation is. Don’t fret; the reward can be worthwhile for most, especially in emerging markets.

Are you looking for figures to budget your business accordingly? Wondering what your largest investment will be? Discover a detailed breakdown of all the expenses you can expect by accessing the full webinar recording

5 tips to make your retail application successful

Each license application is scored by the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission on a point scale that takes into account experience, industry and business expertise, and your and your staff’s credentials. You want to write it convincingly and creatively, so your application can stand out as unique when a flood of business owners want in on the new NJ market. 

For the Class 5 Annual License, the following can help your application succeed:

  • Strong funding
  • Your compliant operating plan
  • Your business experience
  • Your environmental impact plan
  • Your community impact, social responsibility, and workforce development plan

1. First, receive funding from one of the following sources:

  • Self-funding
  • Partners
  • Cannabis business loans
  • Private equity
  • Venture capital
  • Friends and family
  • Personal loans
  • Crowdfunding
  • Angel investors
  • Capital brokers

For details on funding and financial projects, read Cannaspire’s blog: How much does it cost to open a dispensary?.

2. Secondly, study! Your operational plan should include a range of knowledge on how to sell cannabis items to consumers and how to evaluate product quality.

It should also include a recall plan for inventory emergencies, demonstrated knowledge of compliant packaging and proper labeling, and inventory control included with your intended point of sale software.

You should familiarize yourself with plant-specific knowledge like cannabis strains, varieties, cannabinoids, and terpenes. Read our Dutchie Dictionary to understand a lot of these important industry terms.

Understand compliance, state traceability, and recordkeeping at a basic level. You should also study the DOs and DON’Ts of cannabis laws and regulations. Mention your dispensary’s intended design and how it can facilitate compliant workflows. If you want to include delivery, you should familiarize yourself with the workflow rules for transporting cannabis and discuss that in your operational plan. The state wants to know you understand their ruleset and that you’re prepared to operate by the code. 

3. Next, it’s time to highlight your business experience.

Ideally, regulators want to see proof that your business experience comes from regulated industries. If you don’t have this experience, consider consulting or partnering with someone who does understand that kind of business. Having them back your application will instill instant trust with regulators and make them more likely to score your application higher.

4. You need to commit to any environmental impact solutions you intend to use in your operations.

This can include solar panels, packaging recycling plans, and sustainability plans that track your business’s carbon footprint. Anything you can do to go green and reduce harm to the environment will impress regulators and give them more reason to support your cannabusiness.

5. When it comes to creating a community impact plan, you’ll need to customize it to your specific town in New Jersey.

Feel free to reach out to your municipality to ask what the community needs and how you can support those non-profits or volunteer groups. Maybe that means sponsoring a community soup kitchen or the annual firefighter fundraiser. If you have volunteer experience, include that on your application. It never hurts to give back.

Get a jump on workforce development: partner with an organization like Minority Cannabis Academy (MCA).

Even if you don’t personally qualify for a priority application in New Jersey, you can create a workforce that helps improve social equity in your community. MCA just launched a dispensary operation and cultivation education program that prepares candidates for cannabis careers—and it’s located in New Jersey!

Compliant technology can help!

Dutchie has a full Compliance team that has helped cannabis operators grow their businesses nationwide. Our Point of Sale, Ecommerce, and Payments solutions are all made for the industry and intended to safeguard your investment with built-in compliance. Using a trusted tech platform and including it in your application can help boost operational confidence. We have relationships with regulators in New Jersey—and across North America.

You can watch the full webinar on-demand here.

Special thanks to our partner:

Cannaspire, a certified woman-owned business, is comprised of a diverse group of cannabis experts with decades of experience serving all facets of the cannabis industry. Cannaspire provides services for Cannabis businesses from application to expansion, including consulting, licensing, compliance, and security solutions.

Learn more about Cannaspire’s New Jersey tips in their complete guide, How To Open A Dispensary in New Jersey.

About the author
Dutchie
The Dutchie Squad