“Legacy Operator” is the politically correct preferred nomenclature. But the term “weed dealer” is still more widely recognized.
Street cannabis that the New Jersey adult use cannabis referendum legalization law calls “marijuana,” is abundant across the Garden State.
New Jersey Smoke Shops Selling Weed
New Jersey smoke shops have popped everywhere in pro-cannabis big cities and along with anti-legal cannabis suburbs and small towns.
Smoke shops operate during street fairs where police patrol idly for crowd control. They often stand by next to the store without giving it a second glance.
Shops are selling products that say they’re California legal, which is amusing to see on the East Coast.
This is different but similar to unregulated Delta 8 and Delta 9-derived hemp being sold widely as well.
New Jersey Smoke Shops with “Exotics” in the title usually sell weed. Sometimes, they sell unique, foreign, or imitation snacks.
Some are still operating on the gifting principle where a mass-produced sticker can cost $80, which comes with weed as a “bonus.”
The shops might look like regular smoke shops with paraphernalia and tobacco products.
They also often have weed for sale.
NJ Cannabis Legacy Operators Delight
At a recent forum, the notorious cannabis businessman and advocate Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion said the smoke shops selling weed love him.
He explained that when he travels, owners of corner stores, gas stations, and smoke shops often recognize him. They are often delighted to meet him. Many would like to show him their quality goods.
“Especially the Indian places. I’m not trying to snitch on anyone,” NJWeedman said.
He noted many CBD shops and vape shops have bags of weed they’re selling under the counter.
“They should just change the sign,” NJWeedman joked.
He does not like the red tape of the market. However, his company is pursuing a license.
Many New Jersey Cannabis Legacy Markets
Some New Jersey cannabis legacy operator markets are barely underground now. Friendly indoor and outdoor venues in urban, suburban, and rural areas provide sanctuaries. Several markets operate like farmers’ markets, where customers buy goods and leave fairly quickly. Others take on a party atmosphere with music, entertainment, free joints or dab hits, games, and water slides.
There are often multiple underground cannabis markets occurring every week somewhere in New Jersey if you know where to look or know a guy.
Like normal small businesspeople, underground NJ cannabis legacy operators have taken to social media to promote their products.
While social media platforms can be hostile, they can’t patrol all their streets all the time, and many accounts are devoted to selling weed. Some cannabis legacy operators have organized social media groups to promote themselves and organize their following into a community.
Many New Jersey cannabis legacy vendors operate like regular small businesses with their own brands selling products for a deal that comes with labels.
The packaging is unique. One of them contained the symbol above. It is not an official symbol sanctioned by the NJ-CRC or another arm of the State of New Jersey.
Clouds and Pushback
The New Jersey cannabis legacy operator Daniel Kessel followed NJWeedman’s ideas of fighting the system in Ocean County. Unfortunately, the last Heady NJ heard, he had spent the summer in jail.
Some legacy operators understand the good parts of the underground market are unsustainable. Many want legal businesses that can be assets.
The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) has said they want to give licenses to legacy operators. However, the high barriers to entry into the New Jersey cannabis market of location, money, and town approval however are stopping them. In addition, they endorsed the anti-legacy rhetoric Governor Phill Murphy (D) put his name on.
Some in the legal, licensed cannabis industry have been critical of the underground legacy operators. Those with a zero-sum mentality see them as competitors to their businesses, which have been very expensive to set up.
You argue there are some grounds to justify that. The California adult use cannabis market is over-regulated, driving the price very high. Thus, their legacy cannabis market is much, much larger than their legal market.
Others in Jersey are more sensible. They realize that they are trying to get customers from the legacy market. The people who are most passionate and knowledgeable about the cannabis plant would have legacy ties. They could also make the best New Jersey legal cannabis workers.
Thus, most in the New Jersey cannabis industry are at least somewhat more accommodating.