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Chirali V. Patel Quoted in Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer on Issues Faced By Local Players Seeking to Enter Cannabis Industry

News
10.29.21

Chirali V. Patel, attorney in the Cannabis & Hemp practice as Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in an article in the Press of Atlantic City and The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Who will control legal marijuana sales in N.J.? Local players or big companies?" The article discusses the ongoing initiative in New Jersey to create more opportunity for applicants with a criminal record related to cannabis, those from communities with high unemployment or large numbers of marijuana arrests, as well as those owned by women, disabled veterans, and Blacks and other people of color.

New Jersey’s refusal to cap the number of licenses — with the exception of cultivators until February 2023 — was seen as a positive, as it was supposed to create a less competitive environment. But many municipalities that have let cannabis businesses open within their borders are capping the number of licenses, “making it competitive at the local level,” said Chirali Patel, a cannabis lawyer at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden PC in Hackensack.

“Municipalities also get to tell the commission which applicants they favor. That is good for towns, but it adds a layer of politics that many inexperienced business people may find daunting. Towns had the option to opt out of cannabis or to allow only limited types of cannabis businesses to open.”

Patel sees other problems for small-time applicants, as well.

The commission will prioritize applicants with a criminal record related to cannabis, those from communities with high unemployment or large numbers of marijuana arrests, as well as those owned by women, disabled veterans, and Blacks and other people of color.

The cannabis legislation also requires that at least 15% of licenses go to certified minority-owned businesses and 15% to firms owned by women or by disabled veterans. And the commission decided that such applicants will be reviewed first. But they don’t get extra points during the scoring for being in those categories, Patel said.

“The biggest problem is nobody knows how to transition the legacy to legit,” said Patel, referring to those who sold illegally. “We’re giving them applicant status. We’re not giving them money. We’re not giving them a separate application. We’re not making it easier for them at the local level. So are we really helping?”

To view the Press of Atlantic City article, click here.

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