Some two-thirds of cities and towns in New Jersey have elected not to permit licensed marijuana retailers.

Localities had until this past Saturday to decide whether to allow retail operations or to bar them. Those municipalities that have chosen to opt out are free to reverse their position at any time.

The initial citywide moratoriums apply to the licensing of brick-and-mortar retailers. New regulations just issued by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission forbid localities from imposing bans on marijuana delivery services.

Commenting on the towns’ decisions, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These moratoriums only serve to protect and prolong the illicit cannabis marketplace. Time and time again, we have seen that consumers prefer to obtain cannabis products from safe, licensed, above-ground retailers. But, absent access to such facilities, the illicit market will continue to fill this void.”

He added: “Despite a mandate from their constituents, the majority of whom overwhelmingly voted in November to legalize adult-use marijuana sales in New Jersey, many local officials remain hesitant of the notion of licensing these operations in their communities. The irony is that marijuana sales are already taking place in these communities right now. But rather than taking place in licensed, regulated establishments, they are occurring on street-corners without any oversight and without any monies generated from these sales filtered back into the community.”

Studies have repeatedly refuted the claims that retail marijuana establishments are linked with either elevated crime rates or increases in youth marijuana use or access. Some analyses have concluded that retailers are associated with a rise in home values and in other positive economic indicators.

Regulations place no statewide cap on the number of licensed retailers that will be permitted in New Jersey. Existing medical cannabis businesses are eligible to apply for approval to sell to the adult market.

Retail sales are anticipated to begin within six months.

Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, ‘Societal Impacts of Cannabis Dispensaries/Retailers.

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