by The Real Dirt | Apr 21, 2022 | 420 Culture & Travel, Blog, Business, Cannabis Business, Cannabis News, Culture, Industry News, Legalization
Thursday April 21, 2022 marks the first day that recreational cannabis can be sold to consumers in New Jersey. Doors opened at the first dispensaries at 6 AM, with lines wrapping around the block.
“It’s a huge event. It’s a moment in time in American history where prohibition 2.0 is lifted,” said Ben Kovler, the chairman and CEO of Green Thumb Industries, which has two facilities opening Thursday, one in Bloomfield and another in Paterson.
However the industry isn’t fully taking off just yet. Just over a dozen “alternative care providers” in the state that were already providing medical cannabis to patients were given permission to sell adult-use cannabis on opening day.
It is still unclear when the hundreds of other cannabis business applicants will get their licenses and be allowed to open their doors, but it will likely start with social equity applicants first.
State regulators say dispensaries in New Jersey are allowed to sell up to the equivalent of 1 ounce of cannabis, which means an ounce of dried flower, or 5 grams of concentrate or 1,000 milligrams of edibles, like gummies. However perishable edibles like cookies and brownies will not be available.
Recreational cannabis sales will still apply the state 6.625% sales tax, with 70% of the proceeds going to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests.
New Jersey is the first among several neighboring states to launch recreational cannabis sales. New York legalized cannabis in 2020 but has yet to implement a recreational market. Pennsylvania has a successful medical cannabis industry, with advocates and even legislators pushing for full legalization this year. Connecticut also legalized cannabis but has yet to implement any marketplace for consumers.
by The Real Dirt | Mar 16, 2022 | Blog, Business, Cannabis Business, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Industry News, Legalization, Politics
New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market is gearing up to launch within weeks and is poised to become one of the largest on the East Coast with annual sales projected to top $2 billion within a few years.
The state is positioned to beat rival New York to the punch and to match, if not exceed, Massachusetts in annual adult-use sales.
But, like most new markets, industry officials are concerned about whether supply will be adequate to meet demand – at least in the early stages.
New Jersey’s adult-use market – approved by voters in November 2020 – is expected to launch with only a handful or so of the state’s existing medical cannabis operators.
The start of recreational marijuana sales also comes as social equity applicants are struggling to develop their business know-how, raise funds and secure real estate.
Existing medical marijuana operators might get as much as an 18-month head start on some new cannabis businesses, an industry expert said.
The recreational marijuana law implementing the voter initiative called for sales to begin by Feb. 22, 2022, but the state ignored that deadline, saying it was too early.
Gov. Phil Murphy then hinted in late February that the market could launch “within weeks,” and state regulators indicated recently that they were nearly finished reviewing applications by five current MMJ operators.
Industry officials say that the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission could take up and approve those applications at its March 24 meeting, but it’s unclear how quickly sales would then be allowed to begin.
“We could have only five operators trying to meet the initial demand of the entire state,” said Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the cannabis law practice at Cole Schotz in New Jersey.
“It’s almost naive to think we aren’t going to run into some issues.”
While that’s been the case in other new adult-use markets as well, the New Jersey recreational marijuana law included provisions intended to prevent negative fallout for the state’s roughly 120,000 MMJ patients.
MJBizDaily projects that New Jersey recreational marijuana sales will ramp up from $625 million to $775 million in 2022 to more than $2 billion a year by 2025 or 2026.
Medical marijuana sales, meanwhile, are expected to peak by 2023 and then begin declining, as has been the trend in most adult-use states.
by The Real Dirt | Feb 1, 2022 | Blog, Business, Cannabis Business, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Growing, Industry News, Legalization, Politics
In fact, they say they’re bursting at the seams with marijuana — and now, they’re worried they’ll have to take drastic measures if things don’t speed up.
“I hate to say this, but we may have to start destroying product, and we may have to start potentially letting people go because part of the anticipation is you ramp up your staffing, as well,” said James Leventis, an executive for Verano New Jersey, which has a cultivation and processing facility in Readington Township and three stores in Elizabeth, Lawrence Township and Neptune.
“You’re hired for a job with the idea that this market will develop,” said Leventis, the company’s vice president of Compliance & Government Affairs. “I’m very concerned we will continue to see these delays. It’s looking very stark right now.”
Just like any other organic material, cannabis starts to decompose after time. Even after it’s properly stored, after six months weed can get stale, loose its aroma and potency. In worst-case scenarios, the pot can get moldy.
For months, Verano along with fellow New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association members have been pressuring the state to allow them to sell to the public. The strategy has increased over the last month.
So what’s the hold up?
In no uncertain terms, the state agency created to govern the nascent cannabis industry — the Cannabis Regulatory Commission — has said these same companies demanding to open have yet to comply with stipulations in the marijuana law.
“The law has been in place since Feb. 22, 2021,” said Jeff Brown, the CRC’s executive director at last week’s public meeting. “It has noted clearly that alternative treatment centers [like Verano] need three things: municipal approval, relevant necessary supply to be able to serve their patient base, and operational capacity to continue to serve and even expand access.”
by The Real Dirt | Jan 21, 2022 | Blog, Cannabis Law, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Culture, Growing, Legalization, Medical Marijuana, Politics
New Jersey state Senator Nick Scutari (D), the Senate President and a major proponent of cannabis legalization, said he doesn’t see the home cultivation of cannabis coming anytime soon.
New Jersians will not immediately be able to grow their own cannabis, neither for medical nor personal use purposes, the Asbury Park Press reports. During a webinar with cannabis industry professionals, state Sen. Nick Scutari (D), the main proponent of cannabis legalization in the state Senate and the new chamber president, said he does “not see” home cultivation “happening right now.”
“I’m not against marijuana being grown at home for medical purposes and maybe even just recreational purposes. But we’ve got to let this industry … it’s not even off the ground yet.” Scutari said during a press conference.
Currently, the price of medical cannabis in New Jersey runs about $412 to $420 per ounce, according to Curaleaf prices outlined by the Press.
Jo Anne Zito, a board member for the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, said allowing patients to grow their own medicine would be “a tremendous help.”
“It doesn’t seem like the sky has fallen in these other places,” she told the Press. “Yeah, some of it may get to the illicit market but I don’t think it’s anything that’s hurting revenue or setting back legal sales.”
Of the 19 states that have legalized cannabis, New Jersey is the only one that does not allow medical patients to grow their own, the report says. Cultivating even one cannabis plant in the state is still punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine, despite the state’s legalization law.
by The Real Dirt | Dec 16, 2021 | Blog, Business, Cannabis Business, Cannabis Law and Compliance, Cannabis News, Industry News, Legalization
The Murphy Administration began accepting applications from cannabis growers, product manufacturers and testing labs on Wednesday — the first step that will usher in the legitimate marijuana industry New Jersey voters endorsed in a referendum 13 months ago.
Within four hours of the application portal going live 9 a.m. Wednesday, 500 people had established accounts, Jeff Brown, executive director for the Cannabis Regulatory Commission announced. By the end of the business day, 635 had created accounts, commission spokeswoman Toni-Anne Blake said.
“We are happy to reach this milestone,” Brown said in a statement. “Applications are coming in, the platform is performing well, and we can officially mark the launch of the state’s recreational cannabis industry.”
The commission will start accepting applications for dispensary owners, the retail shops that will sell the cannabis products, on March 15. There are no deadlines; applications will be accepted and reviewed on a continuous basis, the commission said.
Applicants who are owned by women, minorities and veterans will get reviewed and approved first, as well as from those who have been convicted of marijuana offenses and people from poor communities, the commission has said. One of the goals behind legalizing the sale and possession of weed is to lessen the harm on Black and brown people, who have been more than three times more likely to face arrest and conviction than white people, even though usage rates are the same.
Under the cannabis legalization law signed in February by Gov. Phil Murphy, the commission created the Office of Minority, Disabled Veterans, and Women Business Development to promote diversity.
The commission also created a category for Social Equity Business applicants, defined as entities “owned by people who have lived in an economically disadvantaged area or who have convictions for cannabis-related offenses.”