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Preparations for New Jersey Cannabis Market Opening Thursday

New Jersey’s cannabis market is opening on Thursday, 4/21. Seven medical dispensary chains will be allowed to sell adult-use cannabis.

“At long last. I got behind this for social justice,” Governor Phil Murphy said. He spoke at a press conference earlier today about the opening of the market.

If we want to have just the big players in the industry, it happens a lot faster. But we want more than just the big players; the moms and pops who can’t access capital,” he added.

There are 10 of 56 licensed medical cannabis operating 23 dispensary locations. But only 13 locations will be selling adult-use cannabis starting Thursday.

All of the companies licensed for New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis market are corporations that are out-of-state Multi-State Operators (MSOs). None are owned by anyone living in New Jersey.  

Open Locations

The New Jersey cannabis market will only be open at the following locations:

  1. Rise (owned by Green Thumb Industries, an MSO in 14 states) in Bloomfield.
  2. Rise (owned by Green Thumb Industries) in Paterson.
  3. Curaleaf (an MSO in 15 states) in Bellmawr.
  4. Curaleaf (an MSO in 15 states) in Edgewater Park.
  5. The Cannabist (owned by Columbia Care, an MSO in 12 states and DC) in Deptford.
  6. Columbia Care in Vineland.
  7. Zen Leaf (owned by Verano, an MSO in 10 states) in Lawrence Twp.
  8. Zen Leaf (owned by Verano) in Elizabeth.
  9. Ascend Wellness (an MSO in 5 states) in Rochelle Park.
  10. The Apothecarium (owned by TerrAscend, an MSO in 4 states) in Maplewood.
  11. The Apothecarium (owned by TerrAscend) in Phillipsburg.
  12. The Botanist (owned by Acreage Holdings, an MSO 8 in states) in Williamstown.
  13. The Botanist (owned by Acreage Holdings) in Egg Harbor.

Several companies have dispensaries that will not be open for adult-use sales on Thursday. For example, Ascend’s Montclair location, the first medical dispensary in New Jersey, will not be open for sale on Thursday.

Only one ounce of flower will be permitted for purchase at the dispensaries. Adults are legally allowed to possess up to six ounces of cannabis.

However, unlike in New York City, public consumption is not allowed. Many towns have made it a point to put a penalty on public consumption.

Many cannabis aficionados have commented that sales will begin the day after the noted 4/20 cannabis holiday. It’s like getting a product in for Christmas and having it available for sale the day after.

Those who support adult-use cannabis legalization and prefer proper labeling on their cannabis products have great cause to be excited.

An Immature New Jersey Cannabis Market

While many are glad that some of New Jersey’s existing medical cannabis dispensaries will indeed be allowed to sell adult-use cannabis on Thursday, not everyone is happy.

Because so few will be open, the significant demand will likely cause products to be pricy. Thus, it will be an immature market with a few products likely to be costly. It will be similar to New Jersey’s existing medical cannabis market.

In addition, many patient advocates don’t believe in the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s (NJCRC) points about prioritization. They are skeptical about exclusive patient lines and feel there will still be issues.

Social Justice Goals

Other cannabis advocates are annoyed it will not reflect the market many social justice advocates and entrepreneurs seek. For example, none of the adult-use licensed companies are Black-owned. A market of a few large corporations with a total market share does not create ample opportunities. The NJCRC has said they will exist and seeks to advertise to the public.

It does not create more opportunities for businesses or small CBD businesses legally selling Delta-8 THC products. Many of them wish to be licensed to sell adult-use cannabis.

Those goals will be realized at a future date when the opening of more retail stores makes the market more competitive. Those dispensaries, unfortunately, have yet to be licensed. It was always expected that a small market of medical dispensaries would be selling it first.

Moreover, the unlicensed cannabis companies that have already been in business and selling adult-use cannabis will continue to operate. Those who consume such products do not feel there is a lack of supply in the New Jersey cannabis market.

In fact, many such companies have been operating a home delivery system. Its legal counterpart was authorized in the medical cannabis expansion bill, the Jake Honig Act of 2019. But that has yet to materialize.

Cannabis for Cops

Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said last week that police would be allowed to smoke weed. But only when they are off duty.

This is notable. The police, like many construction workers, by the nature of their profession, are banned from consuming cannabis. In the past, they have turned to alcohol with the expected results.

However, after some outrage, Murhpy said he would sign a bill banning cops from smoking weed.

Many in law enforcement people are unhappy they can’t search vehicles using the smell of cannabis as probable cause. In contrast, social justice advocates have rejoiced at the gains made by the legalization implementation law, CREAMMA.

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