History will be made in New Jersey today, when a handful of stores throughout the state begin recreational cannabis sales.
And after a series of frustrating delays to the launch of the program, customers probably don’t mind that it’s coming a day after 4/20.
The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission announced last week that, beginning today, 13 retail locations will begin recreational cannabis sales.
The five-member panel gave final approval to those cannabis businesses, setting the stage for sales to finally begin.
The Asbury Park Press has a full list of the 13 stores and their locations. Business owners are anticipating long lines and significant demand in the opening days. According to the New York Times, every “cannabis company had to demonstrate it had enough of a supply for both medical and recreational customers as well as plans in place to ensure that patients were not edged out by the flood of customers expected in the early days of legal sales in the densely populated region.”
The Times reported that dispensaries “in Bloomfield and Paterson, which are both about 20 miles from Midtown Manhattan, were making plans to entertain customers waiting in line with a D.J., doughnut truck and a steel drum band,” while the mayor of Maplewood, New Jersey held a meeting last week “to finalize a crowd-control strategy.”
And the Times added that “one of the biggest cannabis companies in the state, Curaleaf, suggested that medical-marijuana clients might want to avoid crowds by stocking up on marijuana [last week].”
Historic Step for New Jersey
In announcing today’s launch of retail cannabis sales, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy hailed it as “a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry.”
“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission executive director Jeff Brown. “New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly to have access to adult-use cannabis and it is now here. I am very proud of the work the Commission has done over the past year to open the market. We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start.”
The final round of approval last week from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission brought closure to what had become a fitful and oft-delayed launch to the program.
New Jersey voters approved a referendum in 2020 legalizing recreational pot sales for adults, but the ensuing year-and-a-half frustrated advocates who had expected sales to begin earlier.
The commission began receiving applications from would-be cannabis businesses in November, which was two months after when it was originally scheduled to start.
Murphy said in February that he expected sales to begin within the month.
“If I had to predict, we are within weeks — I would hope in March — you would see implicit movement on the medical dispensaries, some of them being able to sell recreational,” Murphy said. “They’ve got to prove they’ve got the supply for their medical customers. I hope shortly thereafter, the standalone recreational marijuana operators.”
But after another missed deadline, one New Jersey lawmaker demanded answers.
Nick Scutari, the president of the New Jersey State Senate, announced late last month that he is spearheading a special committee to get to the bottom of the repeated delays to the launch of the cannabis program.
“These delays are totally unacceptable,” Scutari said at the time. “We need to get the legal marijuana market up and running in New Jersey. This has become a failure to follow through on the public mandate and to meet the expectations for new businesses and consumers.”
Scutari said he is seeking “explanations on the repeated hold-ups in expanding medical dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana and in the opening of retail facilities for adult-use cannabis,” and to find out “what can be done to meet the demands and reduce the costs of medical marijuana.”