INDUSTRY

New Jersey Update: Legal Cannabis Sales Could Start Within Weeks?

Is NJ finally ready to open adult-use sales?
Is NJ finally ready to open adult-use sales? /

Feb 25, 2022 -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy addressed the stalled rollout of the state’s adult-use cannabis market this week.

In his radio show on Wednesday night, Murphy said that the Garden State could have medical dispensaries selling adult-use herb “within weeks,” according to a report on NJ.com.

“If I had to predict, we are within weeks — I would hope in March — you would see implicit movement on the medical dispensaries, some of them being able to sell recreational,” Murphy said.

Murphy’s comments came the day after the state missed a self-imposed Feb. 22 deadline to have adult-use retail up and running.

Is Gov. Murphy overly optimistic?

Murphy has lobbied for adult-use cannabis since 2017, so his optimism on the updated timeline is natural.

However, New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission executive director Jeff Brown has revealed a number of factors contributing to the current delay.

One issue is that the CRC is still reviewing applications for licenses – over a year after NJ voters overwhelmingly approved adult-use cannabis in Nov. 2020. This costly delay has frustrated stakeholders on all sides.

The other big issue is municipality buy-in. Last summer, 70 percent of New Jersey’s municipalities opted for local bans ahead of the August 22 deadline “simply to give themselves more time to develop individualized regulations before greenlighting marijuana companies,” wrote Kyle Jaeger of Marijuana Moment.

In January, Brown commented on the local bans and supply chain concerns. “One of the biggest deficiencies we’re seeing is a lack of municipal approval,” he said. “That’s an issue, and supply continues to be an issue. It’s the priority of the CRC to get recreational sales started as soon as we can, but we have to do it in a way that’s compliant with the law. We need the industry to get there.”

Contrarily, NJ.com reports, a number of medical cannabis operators who’ve requested to serve the adult-use market are frustrated by the state’s delays, threatening to lay off employees and even destroy product if the consumer market doesn’t open soon.

On Wednesday, Murphy agreed the rollout is taking much longer than expected, adding that it’s “better to get it right than fast.”

Currently, there is still no timeline on license approvals.

Two of the more interesting NJ cannabis license applicants include business coach and motivational speaker Bershan Shaw, who also appeared in Real Housewives of New York, as well as Dan Gasby, CEO and co-founder of B. Smith.

Here's to hoping New Jersey can indeed greenlight adult cannabis before the end of March, although don’t hold your breath.

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