New Jersey recreational marijuana users will have to wait until 2023 to celebrate the infamous “4/20” holiday as the state will allow sales to begin this year on April 21.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) will be issuing licenses to seven alternative treatment centers (ATCs) to begin adult-use cannabis operations, including at 13 retail dispensaries.
Individuals 21 years and older will be able to purchase cannabis and cannabis products without a medical card legally for the first time on the date.
Approved Sellers and Locations
“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said CRC 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 governor’s office said a list of locations that will open on April 21 will be posted on the commission’s website as soon as ATCs confirm the date on which they will begin operations.
North Jersey Outlets
The Garden State is now among 16 states that have fully legalized adult-use cannabis. Washington State was the first in 2012. Massachusetts and Maine are the only other East Coast states currently allowing recreational cannabis sales.
Acreage, Curaleaf, Columbia Care, Verano, Ascend Wellness, GTI (d.b.a. RISE), and TerrAscend were the operators given the green light to begin sales, as previously reported on North-JerseyNews.com.
Retail shops from GTI are expected in Bloomfield and Paramus, while Ascend locations could be found in Fort Lee, Rochelle Park, and Montclair. TerrAscend will open outlets in Maplewood and Lodi.
Maintaining Social Equity
Of note, ATCs will be required to meet social equity standards, including providing technical knowledge to new cannabis businesses, with a particular focus on social equity applicants.
“We remain committed to social equity,” said CRC chair Dianna Houenou. “We promised to build this market on the pillars of social equity and safety. Ultimately, we hope to see businesses and a workforce that reflect the diversity of the state, and local communities that are positively impacted by this new and growing industry.”
Medical cannabis companies who were approved for the recreational side of sales will be assessed on diversity in hiring and management, support for community programs, and other factors. Scores for the dispensaries will be posted and updated regularly.
The Cannabis Market
“A socially equitable cannabis market will have substantial representation of those communities in employment and in ownership and these companies that have been benefitting from the market for the past 12 years – and are now expanding into the lucrative recreational space – have a role in helping to accomplish that,” said Wesley McWhite III, NJ-CRC’s director of Diversity and Inclusion, who will be responsible for ensuring that the ATCs licensed for recreational use comply with the Act.
The state has estimated 130,000 registered medical marijuana patients and commissioners had been cautious to open up recreational sales without assurances that patients would still be served. The CRC is still projecting the recreational market to be under-supplied, with estimates ranging from a shortage of around 116,000 pounds to 208,000 pounds per year.
Those figures are based on annual projections of 130,000 cannabis patients and about 836,000 recreational customers from New Jersey—around 12% of the state’s adult population, according to CRC staff. Another 788,000 “tourism consumers” from outside New Jersey are expected.