“It’s really only a beginning, and I think it shows that there’s a lot of growth left in this market.”

By Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, New Jersey Monitor

One month into the nascent cannabis industry’s launch, consumers have purchased $24 million in recreational marijuana, regulators said during a meeting Tuesday where more permits for dispensaries were approved.

Another five medical-only dispensaries will soon be able to start selling adult-use cannabis, joining the 12 dispensaries that started selling recreational marijuana on April 21. The new locations will be Garden State Dispensaries in Woodbridge, Union, and Eatontown; The Apothecarium in Lodi; and Ascend in Montclair.

“It’s really only a beginning, and I think it shows that there’s a lot of growth left in this market,” said Jeff Brown, executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which oversees the state’s marijuana market.

The $24 million in sales at the 12 dispensaries that can sell recreational cannabis—a 13th location didn’t get final approval until two weeks ago—is lower compared to other states. In Arizona, which launched its market at 73 facilities, the state reported $32 million in sales in the first full month the market was open. In New Mexico, which launched in April with at least 100 stores, sales reached nearly $40 million.

New Jersey dispensaries brought in about $5 million each week total. The commission expects that number to balloon as more licenses are approved.

A total of 46 conditional licenses were awarded at Tuesday’s meeting: 22 for cultivators, 13 for manufacturers, and 11 for recreational retailers. Four testing labs were also approved to begin operating.

It’s not clear when the recreational retailers can begin sales. There are still local regulatory hurdles for owners to clear.

The commission also removed the “medical only” rule for licenses it awarded in the 2019 application cycle, which means instead of operating at least one year as a medical dispensary, licensees need only to prove they have enough supply for both medical and recreational demand.

Brown said the commission will issue quarterly reports starting next month on the number of licensees who are people of color, women and veterans. The state’s marijuana law requires those groups comprise 30 percent of licensees.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for June 23.

This story was first published by New Jersey Monitor.

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