Sales of recreational cannabis in New Jersey will begin April 21, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission announced Thursday.
For the uninitiated, it’s a day after 4/20, a day many have long celebrated as an unofficial weed-loving holiday.
Specific locations where sales will begin have not been identified. Regulators said they will post a list of sites that will open next Thursday on the CRC’s website as soon as medical marijuana companies notify the commission of their opening date.
The commission said Monday that seven of the state’s medical cannabis companies, with 13 locations, could expand into recreational cannabis as soon as they pay expansion fees and pass final inspections.
The closest places to Philadelphia that could be open to all adults on April 21 are in Bellmawr, Edgewater Park and Deptford. Other South Jersey locations approved to begin recreational sales are Bordentown, Egg Harbor Township, Vineland and Williamstown. The South Jersey stores are owned by Acreage, Curaleaf and Columbia Care.
“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said CRC executive director Jeff Brown. “New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly for access to adult-use cannabis and now it’s here.”
Recreational sales will begin 17 months after New Jersey voters approve legalization in a referendum. The delay had put the five-member commission under increasing political pressure to launch the state’s recreational cannabis market.
Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.
» READ MORE: Where and When You Can Buy Recreational Marijuana in New Jersey
In February 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed a set of three cannabis bills into law. One of them called for the creation of a regulated recreational marijuana market. Another decriminalized possession of up to six ounces of marijuana. The third mandated the removal of low-level marijuana arrests from the records of as many as a quarter of a million people.
The law provided that the state’s existing medical cannabis businesses would be the first to sell recreational cannabis, but it also required that they prove they had enough supply to provide uninterrupted service to the 130,000 cannabis patients. state medical – which some still fear the start of recreational sales will make it harder for them to access their medicines.
READ MORE: What is and isn’t allowed under New Jersey’s marijuana laws
The CRC also demanded that existing companies, mostly large companies operating in multiple states, meet social equity standards not only by hiring people from disadvantaged backgrounds, but also by helping start-ups from these communities. .
CRC has received hundreds of applications from small businesses hoping to enter the industry as growers, manufacturers or retailers and has granted approximately 100 preliminary licenses.
“We have promised to build this market on the pillars of social equity and security,” CRC Chair Dianna Houenou, who abstained from voting at Monday’s meeting, said in a statement. hurry. “Ultimately, we hope to see businesses and a workforce that reflect the diversity of the state and local communities who will be positively impacted by this growing new industry.”
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Medical cannabis businesses that have been approved to begin recreational sales “will be evaluated on diversity in hiring and management, support for community programs, the number of new and local businesses they provide technical support to, and the percentage of minority-owned vendors or vendors they contract with, among others,” the CRC said.
The dispensary’s scores will be posted and updated regularly on the agency’s website, the CRC said.