TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy completed his appointments to the state’s new Cannabis Regulatory Commission Thursday.
The five-person commission will have a big say in the way New Jersey rolls out legalization of recreational marijuana.
What is the Cannabis Regulatory Commission?
The CRC will, according to the state, regulate New Jersey’s medical cannabis marketplace and give oversight for the soon-to-be-established adult-use recreational cannabis marketplace. Medicinal marijuana has been legal in the Garden State since 2010.
Gov. Murphy established the CRC in 2019 and started making appointments once the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November of 2020.
In a statement Thursday, Murphy said that the commission will “act to ensure that the marketplace for adult-use recreational cannabis is equitable, fair, and inclusive of all communities.”
Who appoints members of the CRC?
When Gov. Murphy signed the legislation creating the commission, the plan was for the CRC to consist of five members appointed by the governor, with one each upon the recommendation of Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. The initial three appointments — made solely by the Gov. Murphy — are direct appointments serving terms of three, four, and five years and subsequently are subject to advice and consent.
Who runs the Cannabis Regulatory Commission?
Dianna Houenou was named commissioner back in November. Houenou, a Trenton resident, is a cannabis legalization advocate who also served as a senior policy adviser and associate counsel to Gov. Murphy. Prior to that, she worked as a policy council with the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU, where she “developed legislative strategies for ACLU-NJ advocacy campaigns and led the organization’s coalitions advocating for marijuana legalization and Newark police reform.”
Houenou was one of Gov. Murphy’s three direct appointments.
Jeff Brown was named executive director of the commission in November. A Mercer County native, Brown is the assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, overseeing the department’s medical marijuana division.
Prior to working for the state, Brown worked extensively on the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, particularly the creation of health insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid.
What do the chairperson and executive director do?
According to a spokesperson for Murphy, commissioners are responsible for governance. They will approve regulations and other key actions of the Commission, provide strategic direction, and be responsible for holding public meetings with stakeholders. The chair will lead those efforts.
The executive director is responsible for administration, operations and execution of that strategic direction and corresponding regulations. All staff report up to the executive director.
Who else is on the Cannabis Regulatory Commission?
The other four members were rounded out with appointments made Thursday by Gov. Murphy.
Krista Nash was named to the commission in November upon the recommendation of Speaker Coughlin. Nash is a long-time social justice advocate. She currently serves as Program Director of the PROMISE program at Volunteers of America Delaware Valley and previously served as a mentor at Oaks Integrate Care and Transitions for Youth. Additionally she serves on the Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force.
On Thursday, Gov. Murphy appointed Maria Del Cid and William Wallace to the CRC and appointed Sam Delgado as a member on the recommendation of Senate President Sweeney.
Del Cid currently serves as the director of oolicy and legislative services at the New Jersey Department of Health, where she serves as a liaison with the governor’s office and to the legislature.
Wallace is the director of the professional division of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union Local 342, where he also serves on the executive board. Wallace previously worked as a Pharmacist-In-Charge at several pharmacies across the state of New Jersey.
Delgado most recently served as vice president of external affairs for Verizon, a position from which he retired in 2019. Before retiring, Mr. Delgado was responsible for managing the allocation of grants, supporting Verizon’s philanthropic endeavors, and furthering Verizon’s environmental commitments.
When will adult-use recreational marijuana be for sale in New Jersey
Murphy said Monday that while an agreement on legislation officially legalizing recreational weed has been agreed upon and signed into New Jersey State Law, it will take up to six months to establish the market.
The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate passed the last-minute measure Monday to ease penalties on underage possession of both alcohol and marijuana as a way to secure Murphy’s signature on two bills already on his desk that set up the new marketplace and decriminalize marijuana for those 21 and older.
Murphy said he expects the marketplace to take about 6 to 9 months to get up and running.
“It’s going to take some number of months,” he said.