TRENTON- The unofficial holiday for pot smokers is April 20, but April 21 will be the official day of celebration for New Jersey’s legal cannabis sector. Adult-use cannabis sales are now legal in New Jersey on Thursday, paving the way for a $2 billion market by 2025, according to analysts.
On the first day the state sold almost $2m worth of cannabis to about 12,000 people, making an average sale of about $160 per shopper according to the State’s own data.
The supporters of recreational cannabis in New Jersey have been waiting a long time: In November 2020, voters in the state supported a ballot proposal allowing recreational cannabis sales, which Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law back in February 2021.
Consumers have thus been waiting more than a year for when anyone over the age of 21 can go into one of the state’s dispensaries and walk out with legally purchased cannabis. This was due to delays in developing a regulatory framework for the business.
On April 21, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission of New Jersey approved only seven companies to commence recreational sales of cannabis flower and cannabis-infused goods. They have first pass at the potentially large market– because they already run medical cannabis dispensaries in the state, which means they’re less likely to sell out or run into other logistical issues right away.
On Thursday, only 13 dispensaries across a state of more than 9 million people opened for recreational sales, with customers likely flocking in from neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New York. The April 21st launch date in New Jersey was chosen with care: Regulators were concerned that launching the recreational market on April 20th would flood dispensaries with new clients on the first day.
The operators of dispensaries always swear they’re ready. The majority of cannabis companies expected recreational sales in New Jersey to begin in August 2021, and the state’s months of delays have given everyone even more time to store up on supplies.
The seven multi-state enterprises that will begin recreational sales in New Jersey on Thursday will be able to establish the market, while newer and smaller businesses will spend the next several months building up supplies and employing employees.
The approval timeline for younger and smaller enterprises – including those managed by people of color and others who have been negatively affected by the drug war, as per the state’s own diversity goals – is currently unknown.
Curaleaf and Verano, for example, will almost certainly have a large head start in establishing a footing in what is expected to be a multibillion-dollar business.