New Jersey will launch its projected $2 billion adult-use marijuana market on April 21 amid lingering questions about whether operators can adequately serve the state’s 120,000 medical cannabis patients without disrupting recreational supplies.
The long-awaited start of recreational marijuana sales also comes as social equity applicants in the state are struggling to develop their businesses, including raising capital.
The initial seven adult-use companies are all multistate operators.
Industry experts said they might get as much as an 18-month head start on some new cannabis businesses.
Gov. Phil Murphy used social media Thursday to announce the April 21 launch date – a day after the unofficial marijuana holiday of 4/20.
New Jersey voters approved adult-use marijuana in November 2020.
The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) earlier this week gave the green light to seven existing medical cannabis operators to begin adult-use sales, pending details such as passing final inspections and paying fees.
At least six will open their doors next week, The New York Times reported.
Cannabis attorney Rob DiPisa of the Cole Schotz law firm in New Jersey said he expects some initial choppiness.
“There’s going to be a bottleneck at the beginning,” DiPisa predicted Thursday. “They’re trying to service the initial demand and ensure they have enough supply for all the patients.”
The operators have developed plans to put MMJ patients at a priority should supplies run low, focusing in part on home delivery and curbside pickup.
CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown recommended that companies be fined $10,000 a day should they fail to preserve MMJ patient supply.
The seven operators that were approved to begin adult-use sales have a total of 13 stores statewide. But what’s critical is their cultivation capacity, DiPisa said.
New Jersey has four other licensed medical marijuana companies in operation, according to the state’s website.
But DiPisa said what the state really needs is additional MMJ operators to come online “so they can contribute to the medical supply.”
The state last year licensed four additional vertical medical marijuana operations, 10 cultivators and 30 dispensaries. But those MMJ businesses aren’t expected to launch until late this year at the earliest.
The seven MMJ operators that won approval to begin adult-use sales are:
- Acreage Holdings, based in New York.
- Ascend Wellness, headquartered in New York.
- Columbia Care, based in New York. Columbia Care is in the process of being acquired by Illinois-based Cresco Labs.
- Curaleaf Holdings, headquartered in Massachusetts.
- Green Thumb Industries, based in Illinois.
- TerrAscend, with offices in Toronto and New York.
- Verano Holdings, based in Illinois.