Four Things to Watch After Legislature Cancels Votes on Marijuana

To the dismay of advocates and the cheers of opponents, the New Jersey Legislature canceled its scheduled votes on a three-bill package to legalize marijuana for adult use, expand the State’s medical marijuana program, and expunge the records of certain marijuana offenders. For the time being, New Jersey will not become the eleventh state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. But with legislators still committed to moving the issue in the future, here are four things to watch in the coming months. Will the Governor Take Action to Expand the State’s Existing Medical Marijuana Program? Marijuana is legal for medical use in New Jersey, and the State’s medical program has seen a rapid expansion under the Murphy Administration. Under the current framework of the “Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act,” the Governor has the authority to permit more alternative treatment centers (ATCs) in the State, and to continue to expand the list of qualifying medical conditions that marijuana can be prescribed for. Governor Murphy and his Department of Health did a call for applicants in August 2018, and issued permits for six new vertically-integrated ATCs. The Governor expressed his desire to expand the medical marijuana program aggressively if legislation did...

Governor Murphy Presents FY 2020 State Budget

Governor Murphy presented his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget to a joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on March 5, 2019. His spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year totals $38.6 billion, which is a $1.3 billion increase from last year’s appropriations bill. The Governor’s budget message continued his theme of a “fairer and stronger economy” to make the middle class more secure. He highlighted the recent enactment of a $15 minimum wage, expansion of paid family leave, and the implementation of the state’s paid sick leave law. The Governor also continued his call for greater K-12 education funding and making community college tuition free. The Governor’s proposal for FY 2020, which he described as a “blueprint for the middle class,” is built upon four pillars: Realizing sustainable savings; Stabilizing revenues and increasing creditworthiness; Maintaining and growing investment in education, infrastructure, and innovation; and Addressing affordability. To accomplish these goals, the Governor proposed: Achieving $1.1 billion in savings from public employee health benefit reforms and other departmental savings identified by the Treasury; Increasing the State’s surplus to $1.2 billion; Funding the State’s pension system at $3.8 billion; Reducing the diversion of funds from dedicated sources like the Affordable...

Here for the Holidays – New Jersey’s Tax Amnesty Program

As a welcome end-of-year present for those with overdue taxes, New Jersey recently launched its tax amnesty program, which began on November 15, 2018 and will end on January 15, 2019. Tax amnesty is available only for State tax liabilities for tax returns due on or after February 1, 2009, and before September 1, 2017. The program offers a waiver of some penalties, Referral Cost Recovery Fees, or cost of collection fees and one-half of the balance of the interest that remains due as of November 1, 2018. My Gibbons colleagues Peter J. Ulrich and Todd M. Kellert wrote a great article on the Tax Amnesty Program, which you can find here. If you have any questions, please contact us since the program is quickly coming to a close. Michael D. DeLoreto is an Associate in the Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department.

NJABC Suspends New Limited Brewery Rules

Less than two weeks after issuing it, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has suspended its Special Ruling that imposed new regulations on Limited Brewery Licensees. The Special Ruling released in late September included restrictions on, among other things, special events and entertainment at Limited Breweries. In its announcement, the NJABC stated that the suspension of the restrictions will provide the opportunity to engage in further conversations with craft breweries and other alcoholic beverage license holders about the impact of the Special Ruling. The NJABC is also poised to work with state legislators to determine whether new legislation is needed to update the law that prompted the Special Ruling. Michael D. DeLoreto, an Associate in the Gibbons Government & Regulatory Affairs Department, and Jennifer P. Smith, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property Department, authored this post. This blog also appeared on the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Law Alert on October 3, 2018.

NJABC Issues New Grand Opening Permit, Limited Brewery Rules

The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has recently issued two notices to the regulated community – the first notice impacting all consumption licensees hosting a Grand Opening event (known as a “soft opening”) and the second impacting the operation of a Limited Brewery. Due to the highly regulated nature of alcoholic beverages and the recent announcement of these rules, licensees should be diligent in their compliance. The Grand Opening Permit authorizes an on-premise consumption licensee to sponsor a one-time private event on the licensed premises at its initial opening. With this permit, the NJABC recognizes that a new licensee may want to introduce itself to certain members of the community through a private event before its opening to the general public. The licensee must maintain a list of all individuals invited and when the invitation was accepted (no same-day invitations or “walk-up” invitees), and the list must be provided to the NJABC within ten days after the event. The licensee can offer an open bar at the event for no more than three hours (unless the permit authorizes differently), and the entire licensed premises must be closed to the public with clear and conspicuous signage that the premises...

Applications Now Open for Six Additional Alternative Treatment Centers

New Jersey’s Department of Health is seeking applications for six new medical marijuana dispensaries, known as Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs), to be located in the Northern, Central, and Southern regions of the State. Below is some critical information on the application process which closes on August 31, 2018. Why the Department Needs Additional ATCs The six current licensed ATCs are reaching their limit in terms of the number of patients they can treat. In March 2018, Governor Murphy and the Department added five additional medical conditions to the list of qualifying diagnoses eligible for treatment with medicinal marijuana. Among the conditions were two new types of chronic pain, as well as anxiety, migraines, and Tourette’s Syndrome. Since the addition of these conditions, the program has grown by over 7,000 patients and the total number is in excess of 25,000 people. What the New ATCs Can Do The six ATCs to be licensed will be vertically integrated and allow for the cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensing of marijuana. The Department’s objective is to have two licensees located in the Northern region (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren), two in the Central region (Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union), and...

2018 Primary Yields (Mostly) Anticipated Results

New Jerseyans went to the polls on June 5th to select their party’s nominees for the November elections. The most closely watched races were the primaries for the upcoming Congressional races. Nationally, Democrats see a path to gain control of the House of Representatives and possibly the U.S. Senate, but it requires that the party hold their current seats while picking up enough open seats and defeating incumbent Republicans to gain the majority. U.S. Senate As expected, incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Menendez will face Republican Bob Hugin, the former CEO of Celgene. In addition to holding Senator Menendez’s seat, Democrats must win at least two Senate seats held by Republicans in order to flip control of the Senate. House of Representatives Democrats must flip 25 seats nationally to gain control of the House. Democrats believe three of those seats could be in New Jersey, which has a delegation of seven Democrats and five Republicans. In the 2nd Congressional District, State Senator Jeff Van Drew won a contested primary to earn the Democratic nomination. He will face Republican Seth Grossman, an attorney and former local and county office holder. While Senator Van Drew was expected to win the primary, Mr. Grossman...

Update: U.S. Treasury Approves New Jersey’s Opportunity Zones

As we had previously written, the Murphy Administration recently recommended 169 census tracts within 75 New Jersey towns to the U.S. Department of Treasury for inclusion in the newly-created federal Opportunity Zones Program. The Treasury Department has now approved Governor Murphy’s recommendations. A list of the Opportunity Zones and an interactive map showing the Zones can be found through the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Championed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), the 2017 tax reform law incorporated the Opportunity Zones Program to provide federal community development tax incentives and encourage long-term investment in eligible census tracts. The Program allows investors to temporarily defer payment of federal income tax on realized gains if the gains are invested in a qualified Opportunity Fund within 180 days of the date of the particular taxable sale or exchange. In addition, when a taxpayer disposes of an investment in a qualified Opportunity Zone held by the taxpayer for at least 10 years, the taxpayer can elect to exclude from gross income the capital gain on the investment in the Opportunity Zone Fund. A qualified Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle that is organized as a partnership or a corporation for...

Medical Marijuana Reforms on the Horizon

Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature are taking actions towards expanding the medical marijuana program. The Governor announced new rules and regulations to reduce barriers to access for medical marijuana. These include expanding the list of debilitating medical conditions eligible for treatment with cannabis, permitting currently licensed Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) to dispense at satellite locations, eliminating the physician registry for doctors who prescribe marijuana, and soliciting new applicants for ATC permits. These actions stem from the Administration’s report on ways to expand access to marijuana for medical purposes. The New Jersey General Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee also recently approved legislation that would vastly expand the State’s existing medical marijuana program. The bill, A-3740, would allow medical marijuana to be prescribed for any condition and give greater flexibility for patients and caregivers to purchase and transport medical marijuana. Most importantly, and unlike the current medical marijuana distribution system where ATCs both cultivate and dispense medical marijuana, A-3740 creates a separate manufacturing and licensure system. The bill allows for the licensure of 34 medical marijuana dispensaries that would be authorized to dispense marijuana and marijuana products to patients. The legislation would also permit licensure of six medical marijuana cultivator-processors...

New Jersey Picks Its Opportunity Zones

The Murphy Administration announced it has recommended census tracts within 75 New Jersey towns to the U.S. Department of Treasury for inclusion in the newly-created federal Opportunity Zones Program. Championed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC), the 2017 tax reform law incorporated the Opportunity Zones Program to provide federal community development tax incentives and encourage long-term investment in eligible census tracts. The Program allows investors to temporarily defer payment of federal income tax on realized gains if the gains are invested in a qualified Opportunity Fund within 180 days of the date of the particular taxable sale or exchange. In addition, when a taxpayer disposes of an investment in a qualified Opportunity Zone held by the taxpayer for at least 10 years, the taxpayer can elect to exclude from gross income the capital gain on the investment in the Opportunity Zone Fund. A qualified Opportunity Fund is an investment vehicle that is organized as a partnership or a corporation for the purpose of investing in Opportunity Zone Property. Eligible Opportunity Zone Property generally includes (i) stock in a domestic corporation; (ii) any capital or profits interest in a domestic partnership; and (iii) tangible property used in a trade...