Adult-use legal Cannabis sales started today, April 21, in New Jersey. Experts expect a multi-billion dollar industry, reports NJ.com. Jersey political leaders vowed to help those hurt most by the failed War on Drugs. Garden State voters approved weed legalization in November 2020.
The start of the adult-use market came a week after Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced regulators had cleared the way for legal sales, reports the AP. The first licensed sales are fro seven “alternative treatment centers” that already offered medical marijuana. Those seven centers operate 13 dispensaries across New Jersey. The state licensed all 13 of them for adult-use sales.
New Jersey is one of 18 states, plus DC, with legalized adult-use marijuana. Thirty-seven states, including New Jersey, have legalized medical marijuana. New Jersey is first among its adjoining states to begin adult-use sales.
New York is moving forward with an adult-use market. The Empire State will represent the second-largest legal Cannabis market in the US, second only to California. But New York sales won’t start until the end of 2022, state officials said.
“Today Is The Start Of An Entirely New Industry For Our State”
Dispensaries have assured New Jersey officials they can meet the big demand without compromising the quality of the supply. The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission expects stores to sell out within the day. At Rise in Bloomfield, folks lined up before the dispensary’s 6 a.m. open. And by 7 a.m., eager customers packed the shop, reports Pix 11.
The dispensaries that opened the earliest Thursday did so with music, balloons and excitement from the people waiting in line. However, Cannabis legalization still has restrictions in New Jersey, reports which can be found here.
“Today is the start of an entirely new industry for our state,” Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted Thursday morning, “and a historic moment in our work to advance social and economic justice.”
Market Will Exceed $2 Billion Within Years
Industry executives and analysts predict the Jersey weed market will exceed $2 billion within years, reports Reuters. Meanwhile, Governor Murphy’s proposed budget anticipates $121 million in marijuana revenue, mostly from taxes and fees, in fiscal year 2023.
There are currently 130,000 medical marijuana patients in New Jersey. The commission estimates there are roughly 800,000 potential adult-use weed customers.
The commission has received hundreds of applications from startups. Businesses owned by people with Cannabis convictions as well as minorities, women and disabled veterans will receive priority consideration.
“Ending Our Reliance On A Criminal Response”
The law requires much of the state’s marijuana revenue to be invested in communities most harmed by the “War On Drugs.”
In 2018, Black people were arrested more than three times as often as white people for Cannabis offenses in New Jersey. This is despite similar usage rates, according to the ACLU of New Jersey.
“That’s the whole point here: making sure we’re pursuing equity every step of the way and ending our reliance on a criminal response for something that people consume all over the country,” said executive director Amol Sinha.