The 420 Canna Fest NJ cannabis market of legacy operators was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in the Raritan Center in Edison this past Saturday.
It was hosted by NJ Smokers Club. They coordinated a very crowded cannabis legacy market of tablers in the hotel’s banquet hall.
Security guards frisked people entering the very warm and toasty hall. Other guards also carefully watched the crowd and successfully ensured a tranquil market. It was $30 for those 21 and over to enter and browse the merchandise.
There was also a plethora of other cannabis products available for perusal, sampling, and sale. Many cannabis products available on the gray market are unavailable in New Jersey’s limited adult-use LEGAL cannabis market. Attending these events is always fun, even if just to sample or look at the goods, enjoy the crowd, network, and stay up to date on new happenings in the underground cannabis industry.
Open NJ Cannabis Market
NJ Smokers Club periodically organizes these types of pop-ups which are a very competitive type of open-air, free-market with a wide range of various levels of quality products.
Legacy vendors also sold many infused drinks and teas, cotton candy, and infused edibles like granola bars, desserts, and other interesting snacks. Most of those products types are currently not available in the legal NJ cannabis market.
In addition, there were many good deals and a range of cannabis strains, many unavailable in New Jersey’s licensed dispensaries. In fact, currently the NJ legal market, almost all get their cannabis from NJ’s limited selection of corporate growers. There were several cannabis parody brands seen throughout the event, like NERD ROPES, GUSHERS, SYRUPS, REESE’S, and other similar types of products.
Additionally, there were also many products from California and other states. Many creative brands and logos were displayed throughout the event.
High-quality cannabis, like wine, smells and feels better.
In essence, a consumer is relying on the description and information of the MSO seller without first seeing the product. This also highly conflicts with how many buy cannabis on the black market. Viewing your cannabis up close and personally is critical for choosing a strain that you love.
While wine is not always available to sample, wine tasting and sampling are a huge part of the wine culture, so why not cannabis culture too? Well, it is. The mainstream just does not know it yet.
There were also many small business people for whom the cost and red tape of winning a New Jersey adult-use cannabis license made it out of reach. It was a stark contrast from the White male-dominated and moneyed legal NJ cannabis market. Many minority and women vendors were enjoying robust sales.
More than one legacy operator had little interest in jumping through the hurdles to enter the legal NJ cannabis market.
Governor Phil Murphy recently also endorsed a campaign against such legacy operators. However, it seems to have been a merely rhetorical endorsement. Neither Murphy nor any other authority figure made any more threats. State police do not seem to have been the ones perusing the legacy operators who have been caught.
NJ Smokers Club promoter John, also a connected operator, said a Bring Your Own (BYO) event was deemed permissible by those in charge. The only stipulation was that licensed dispensaries could not sell their products.
The cannabis on-site and for sale was officially supposed to be traditional, hemp-derived Delta 9 THC. John noted the likely limited nature of this loophole. States with large, established adult-use cannabis markets have started passing laws regulating it.
John was concerned about the idea of undercutting from other unlicensed operators.
The advent of legalization created a highly competitive and bold underground market.
John noted that the current low price of a gray market ounce at $200-$300 (+/-) makes the economics difficult and unattractive. He is not the only one who prefers the legacy NJ cannabis market. It is seemingly not smart to join the legal market in many legacy operators’ minds.
“Eventually, there will be a nice legal market across the country. But we have to wait until it is federally legal,” John said.
The transition from federal alcohol Prohibition took time as well.
“The feds are sitting there. They’re laughing at people right now,” John said.
Similarly, many consumers of cannabis do not want to purchase cannabis from licensed weed stores when they have access to amazing cannabis products from a variety of weed plugs.
Not everyone has access to black-market cannabis. And the NJ cannabis industry is certainly making a lot of money and bringing in a good amount of revenue. Over time, as the kinks iron out and things evolve, it will likely become better for all.
Right now, though, it’s kind of like the Wild West, or maybe we should say the “Wild East Coast of Cannabis.”
NJ Cannabis Market Fun
There was a tent outside for smoking with a DJ. However, in the cold and dark of November, few utilized it. It was also not very large.
Rap music played in the banquet hall market, and the outdoor tent created a festive atmosphere.
Sativa Cross activists Edward “Lefty” Grimes and Mike Vintzileos, in his Bongholeo costume, also performed parody songs in the hotel lobby. Unfortunately, there was no room for them to perform in the banquet hall.
They sang a song that was a parody of “I Fought the Law”. Sativa cross sang, “Bong fought the law, and the Bong won.” They also sang a song making fun of the Multi-State Operator (MSO) vertically integrated cannabis corporation Curaleaf.
They continued singing, “Curaleaf will sell you something, but you won’t feel nothing. I’m gonna take my weed back to Curaleaf, but I’m gonna cry ’cause my weed is so dry.”
The cannabis-indulged crowd was very amused.
Their events typically feature “Smokeeasies,” aka a “smoke-easy,” aka “smokeasy,” aka “smokeeasy.”
Usually, an outdoor tent is also set up outside adjacent to a banquet hall. This event reminded me of the BYO event, 420 Expo, which also occurred in the Raritan Center.
The next NJ Smokers Club market is a “Green Friday Sale” this Black Friday. The event is at the Italian American Club in Edison.