Earlier this week, state regulators gave approval for several existing medical cannabis retailers to begin also providing cannabis to the adult use market.
“I want our legal adult-use cannabis industry to be a national model,” the Governor said. “And I think we’re there.”
Currently, eight companies operate fewer than two dozen retailers in the state. Not all of those retailers will begin selling to the adult-use market next week. (A list of locations that will open on April 21 will be posted on the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s website here.)
New Jersey voters decided in favor of a referendum legalizing marijuana possession and retail sales in November 2020. However, lawmakers still had to pass additional legislation implementing the law in 2021.
In recent weeks, regulators have issued conditional licenses to 102 cannabis cultivators and manufacturers. Additionally, state regulators have received more than 320 applications from start-up businesses seeking to open adult-use cannabis retail shops. But decisions about those applications are not expected for at least another month, according to media reports, and it is likely to be a year or more before those stores would be operational.
In the interim, prices for retail cannabis products are expected to remain high and supply may be limited. “A robust, above-ground retail marijuana market is necessary in order to disrupt the unregulated marketplace and to assure that consumers have adequate access to lab-tested, high quality products at competitive prices,” NORML’s Paul Armentano said. “Such a mature market is not going to evolve overnight, or even within the first few months. Nonetheless, the experiences of other statewide markets show that prices fall as retail access increases and that, over time, prices for lab-tested products in the legal market settle at price points that are more competitive than those in the unregulated marketplace.”
Lawmakers in nearby states, New York and Connecticut, similarly passed legislation last year legalizing marijuana possession and retail sales. However, licensed retailers in those states are not anticipated to be up and running for several more months.