N.J. Stat. § 24:6I-24

Current through L. 2021, c. 253.
Section 24:6I-24 - Cannabis Regulatory Commission
a. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission is hereby created in, but not of, the Department of the Treasury, to:
(1) assume all powers, duties, and responsibilities with regard to the regulation and oversight of activities authorized pursuant to P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) from the Department of Health for the further development, expansion, regulation, and enforcement of activities associated with the medical use of cannabis pursuant to P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.). All powers, duties, and responsibilities with regard to the regulation and oversight of activities authorized pursuant to P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) shall be transferred from the Department of Health to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission at such time as the members of the commission are appointed as provided in subsection b. of this section and the commission first organizes. Thereafter, any reference to the Department of Health or the Commissioner of Health in any statute or regulation pertaining to the provisions of P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) shall be deemed to refer to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The provisions of this paragraph shall be carried out in accordance with the "State Agency Transfer Act," P.L. 1971, c.375 (C.52:14D-1 et seq.); and
(2) oversee the development, regulation, and enforcement of activities associated with the personal use of cannabis pursuant to P.L.2021, c.16 (C.24:6I-31 et al.).
b.
(1) The commission shall consist of five members, one of whom shall be designated by the Governor as the chair, and one of whom shall be designated the vice-chair in accordance with the appointment process set forth in paragraph (7) of this subsection.
(2) The members of the commission shall be appointed by the Governor as follows:
(a) One member shall be appointed upon recommendation of the Senate President;
(b) One member shall be appointed upon recommendation of the Speaker of the General Assembly;
(c) Three members, including the chair, shall be appointed without any needed recommendation.
(3) Initial appointments of commission members pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection shall not require the advice and consent of the Senate. Subsequent appointments made pursuant to subparagraph (c) of paragraph (2) of this subsection, including reappointments of members initially appointed, shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. Subsequent appointments made pursuant to subparagraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be made in the same manner as the original appointment.
(4) All five members shall be residents of this State. At least one member shall be a State representative of a national organization or State branch of a national organization with a stated mission of studying, advocating, or adjudicating against minority historical oppression, past and present discrimination, unemployment, poverty and income inequality, and other forms of social injustice or inequality, and all five members shall possess education, training, or experience with legal, policy, or criminal justice issues, corporate or industry management, finance, securities, or production or distribution, medicine or pharmacology, or public health, mental health, or substance use disorders.
(5) The chair and the other members shall serve for terms of five years; provided that, for the two other members initially appointed by the Governor without any needed recommendation, one shall be appointed for a term of four years, and one shall be appointed for a term of three years. The chair and the other members shall serve in their respective capacities throughout their entire term and until their successors shall have been duly appointed and qualified. Any vacancy in the commission occurring for any reason other than the expiration of a term, including a vacancy occurring during the term of the initial chair or another initial member, shall be filled in accordance with the requirements for subsequent appointments set forth in paragraph (3) of this subsection for the remainder of the unexpired term only.
(6) The chair and other members of the commission shall devote full time to their respective duties of office and shall not pursue or engage in any other business, occupation, or gainful employment. Each member shall receive an annual salary to be fixed and established by the Governor, which for the chair shall not exceed $141,000, and for the other members shall not exceed $125,000.
(7) The members of the commission, at the commission's first meeting when called by the chair, shall elect, by a majority of the total authorized membership of the commission, one of the members who is appointed based upon the recommendation of the Senate President or Speaker of the General Assembly as set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection to serve as vice-chair during that member's term. A new vice-chair shall be elected upon the expiration of the current vice-chair's term, even if that member remains on the commission until that member's successor is duly appointed and qualified. The vice-chair shall be empowered to carry out all of the responsibilities of the chair during the chair's absence, disqualification, or inability to serve.
(8) A majority of the total authorized membership of the commission shall be required to establish a quorum, and a majority of the total authorized membership of the commission shall be required to exercise its powers at any meeting thereof. However, only if all five commissioners have been duly appointed in accordance with the appointment process set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection, and five appointed commissioners are present at a meeting, may a majority of the total authorized membership act to assume the powers, duties, and responsibilities with regard to the regulation and oversight of activities authorized pursuant to P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) from the Department of Health; and similarly, only if all five appointed commissioners are present at a meeting, may a majority of the total authorized membership act to adopt the commission's initial rules and regulations concerning personal use cannabis pursuant to subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1) of subsection d. of section 6 of P.L.2021, c.16 (C.24:6I-34), by which the licensing of cannabis establishments, distributors, and delivery services, and the lawfully permitted licensing activities of those establishments, distributors, and delivery services may begin.
(9) The commission shall adopt annually a schedule of regular meetings, and special meetings may be held at the call of the chair.
(10) Any member of the commission may be removed from office by the Governor, for cause, upon notice and opportunity to be heard at a public hearing. Any member of the commission shall automatically forfeit the member's office upon conviction for any crime.
c.
(1) The commission shall establish, and from time to time alter, a plan of organization, and employ personnel as it deems necessary under the direct supervision of a full-time executive director for the commission. The plan of organization shall include the Office of Minority, Disabled Veterans, and Women Cannabis Business Development established by section 32 of P.L.2019, c.153 (C.24:6I-25).
(a) The initial executive director shall be appointed by the Governor, and thereafter every subsequent executive director shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The executive director shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing Governor during the Governor's term of office and until a successor has been duly appointed and qualified. Any vacancy in the office occurring for any reason other than the expiration of a term, including a vacancy occurring during the term of the initial executive director, shall be filled for the unexpired term only in the same manner as the appointment of any subsequent executive director as set forth herein. The executive director shall receive an annual salary to be fixed and established by the Governor, which shall not exceed $141,000.
(b)
(i) All employees of the commission under the direct supervision of the executive director, except for secretarial and clerical personnel, shall be in the State's unclassified service. All employees shall be deemed confidential employees for the purposes of the "New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act," P.L. 1941, c.100 (C.34:13A-1 et seq.).
(ii) If, as a result of transferring powers, duties, and responsibilities with regard to the regulation and oversight of activities authorized pursuant to P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) from the Department of Health to the commission pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the commission needs to employ an individual to fill a position, employees of the department who performed the duties of the position to be filled shall be given a one-time right of first refusal offer of employment with the commission, and such employees may be removed by the commission for cause or if deemed unqualified to hold the position, notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary. A department employee who becomes employed by the commission shall retain as an employee of the commission the seniority, and all rights related to seniority, that the employee had with the department as of the last day of employment with the department; provided, however, that such seniority and seniority rights shall be retained only by an employee who was transferred from employment with the department to employment with the commission, and shall not be retained by an employee who was removed from employment with the department due to layoff procedures or who resigned from a position with the department prior to being hired by the commission.
(2) The commission may sue and be sued in any court, employ legal counsel to represent the commission in any proceeding to which it is a party and render legal advice to the commission upon its request, as well as contract for the services of other professional, technical, and operational personnel and consultants as may be necessary to the performance of its responsibilities.
(3) The commission may incur additional expenses within the limits of funds available to it in order to carry out its duties, functions, and powers under P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) and P.L.2021, c.16 (C.24:6I-31 et al.).
d. With respect to the activities of the commission, neither the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the General Assembly shall be permitted to appear or practice or act in any capacity whatsoever before the commission regarding any matter whatsoever, nor shall any member of the immediate family of the Governor, President of the Senate, or Speaker of the General Assembly be permitted to so practice or appear in any capacity whatsoever before the commission regarding any matter whatsoever. As used in this subsection, "immediate family" means the spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner, and any dependent child or stepchild, recognized by blood or by law, of the Governor, President of the Senate, or Speaker of the General Assembly, or of the spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner residing in the same household as the Governor, President of the Senate, or Speaker of the General Assembly.
e. The commission may designate its powers and authority as it deems necessary and appropriate to carry out its duties and implement the provisions of P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) and P.L.2021, c.16 (C.24:6I-31 et al.).
f. The commission shall, no later than three years after the date it first organizes, contract with a public research university, as defined in section 3 of P.L.1994, c.48 (C.18A:3B-3), to conduct an independent study to review:
(1) the commission's organization;
(2) the commission's regulation and enforcement activities;
(3) the overall effectiveness of the commission as a full time entity; and
(4) whether the regulation and oversight of medical cannabis or personal use cannabis could be more effectively and efficiently managed through a reorganization of the commission, consolidation of the commission within the Department of Health or another Executive Branch department, conversion to a part-time commission, or the transfer of some or all of the commission's operations elsewhere within the Executive Branch.

The commission shall submit the findings of the independent study, along with the commission's recommendations for appropriate executive, administrative, or legislative action, to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature.

N.J.S. § 24:6I-24

Amended by L. 2021, c. 16,s. 5, eff. 2/22/2021.
Added by L. 2019, c. 153,s. 31, eff. 7/2/2019.