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N.J.’s weed industry rules will come this week, bringing state a big step closer to legal sales

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will meet Thursday at noon and plans to adopt rules then, according to the latest agenda. The legal cannabis law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in February set a deadline of Aug. 21 for the commission to establish its rules.

While the law lays out the types of cannabis business licenses that will be available in New Jersey, the commission still has a lot of power. It will oversee licensing of new businesses and the allocation of tax revenue to communities harmed by marijuana prohibition.

Once the commission adopts its rules, the real countdown to legal cannabis sales begins. The panel will ultimately decide when sales can start, but must pick a date that falls within 180 days of Aug. 19.

New Jersey currently only has businesses licensed to grow, process and sell medical marijuana to authorized patients. But the state can allow these dispensaries to sell to the public, too, once they have enough product to meet both patient demand and that of the 21 and older market.

During Thursday's meeting, commissioners will summarize the rules, said Toni-Anne Blake, a spokeswoman for the panel. They will then be posted to the commission's website.

They become effective upon filing with the Office of Administrative Law, and remain in place for one year.

The rules will become available just two days before municipalities must decide if they will allow, restrict or ban weed businesses from their borders. The law gave cities and towns the autonomy to decide where, how many and which types of cannabis businesses they would welcome, but some local officials have said it is difficult to navigate the process without available rules and regulations from the commission. Many have decided to ban all businesses for now and reconsider later, waiting to see how they affect other cities and towns that move ahead.

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