Nearly 18 months after New Jersey voters approved Public Question 1 to legalize adult-use cannabis, dispensaries in the Garden State finally have the green light to soon begin selling the plant.
The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Monday approved seven companies representing 13 dispensaries that are currently medical-only, to sell recreational cannabis in the near future. The seven companies are Acreage CCF New Jersey, Ascend Wellness, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, TerrAscend, and Verano. Their combined 13 approved stores are spread statewide, and at least four are within 20 miles of neighboring New York City.
Regulators did not set a specific date for the stores to begin selling adult-use, but a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association said Monday that the state’s leading advocacy group expects the new industry to launch by the end of this month. In a recent interview with WBGO, Gov. Phil Murphy hinted that a start date was “within weeks.”
“We are getting closer to the opening of the market,” said Jeff Brown, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s executive director, on Monday. We are approving applications for new applicants and have now made way for (dispensaries) to expand.”
According to New Jersey law, dispensaries must pass a regulatory inspection before they can begin selling cannabis products. State fees for each of the seven companies involved could reach a whopping $1 million to make the transition to rec, but advocates believe that the final inspection from regulators will be the last hurdle to clear before rec sales begin.
Shoppers will be allowed to buy up to one ounce of marijuana flower per dispensary visit, and will be allowed to legally possess up to six ounces of the plant. Regulators estimate that New Jersey has 800,000 potential recreational consumers among state residents. An additional 700,000 buyers each year are expected to come from out of state.
New Jersey officials are planning to raise $19 million in cannabis tax revenue this year, according to a $49 billion budget that the state Legislature will finalize in the coming days. The majority of proceeds from a 6.625 percent excise tax on retail cannabis sales will benefit communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana-related arrests when the plant was illegal. Local municipalities can also tack on an additional 2 percent tax.