TRENTON – Starting in a few weeks, any adult will be able to purchase marijuana for recreational use at 13 medical dispensaries around New Jersey.

An official start date hasn’t yet been set and will probably vary by location. But the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission, less than three weeks after saying dispensaries didn’t yet have the supply needed to add recreational customers, voted Monday to allow the alternative treatment centers to expand their scope.

Jeff Brown, the CRC executive director, said the commission’s staff visited all the sites since the last meeting are were satisfied that the ATCs were committed to prioritizing patient access, social equity concerns and labor peace agreements.

“The path to get there does not have to be any specific length of time. It’s based on when those ATCs meet those operational requirements and that license is issued,” Brown said. “It doesn’t have to be 30 days. It can be less. It can be more, depending on that operational assessment and when they can meet those requirements.”

To ensure medical patients aren’t squeezed out, the dispensaries agreed to at least 14 patient-only hours per week, exclusive parking and patient-only lines and, in some places, home delivery. The ATCs can be fined $10,000 a day and have their licenses suspended if they don’t meet those mandates.

“What we’re proposing as far as post-award conditions put the necessary teeth in place to ensure ongoing compliance with patient access and accountability with our social equity plans and accountability to ensure that workers have the rights and the choices that they are afforded by law,” Brown said.

Seven companies got the go-ahead: Acreage CCF New Jersey, Curaleaf and Columbia Care in South Jersey; Verano in Central Jersey; and Green Thumb Industries, Ascend New Jersey and TerrAscend in North Jersey. Another had applied but hasn’t yet been approved.

The expansion will apply to 13 of the state’s current 23 medical dispensaries.

The votes for the expanded ATCs were not unanimous, as CRC chairwoman Dianna Houenou voted to abstain. Also, Commissioner Krista Nash voted against the TerrAscend certification, saying she didn’t feel it was fully committed to a labor peace agreement.

“I’m very happy to see that some of the ATCs have decided to take this seriously and button up their plans for expansion,” Houenou said.

“At the last public meeting, it was noted that staff would have to do a little extra hand-holding where needed,” she said. “Now as the CRC takes the training wheels off of this bicycle, it is up to the expanded alternative treatment centers to ensure compliance with their plans, the commission’s regulations and the law.”

“I do expect to see some heavy lines, long lines and heavy traffic around some of these facilities,” said Houenou. “But I do expect the ATCs to work with the CRC and the towns in which the businesses are located to ensure that local officials are properly informed and ready for potential lines and traffic.”

The patient-only hours will vary by dispensary but generally include the first and/or last hours of a business day and a block on the weekend.

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The CRC also approved 34 more applications for conditional licenses for recreational marijuana businesses – 20 growers and 14 manufacturers.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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NJ county fairs make a comeback: Check out the schedule for 2022

UPDATED 4/10: A current list of county fairs happening across the Garden State for 2022. From rides, food, animals, and hot air balloons, each county fair has something unique to offer.

(Fairs are listed in geographical order from South NJ to North NJ)

These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions: