It’s been 534 days since New Jersey voters passed Question 1 to legalize adult-use cannabis in the November 2020 election.
Today, April 21, 2022, New Jersey became the 14th state to officially launch commercials sales at 13 dispensaries operated by seven of the largest companies in the industry: Acreage Holdings, Ascend Wellness, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, TerrAscend and Verano.
Many New Jerseyans would have liked to have seen a faster rollout of the program, Gov. Phil Murphy said during a press conference Thursday morning in front of a Zen Leaf dispensary operated by Verano.
“I know there are some who expected to vote for legal cannabis on November 3, 2020, and be able to purchase it on November 4. If it only were that simple,” he said. “The overriding need was for us to make sure that we got this right the first time. It took long hours of working alongside our extraordinary legislative leaders and partners to ensure the statutory backbone for this industry was sound.”
Thursday’s launch came after numerous delays involving the application and licensing process that were loosely tied to self-imposed deadlines by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), including a missed Feb. 22, 2022, deadline to open dispensaries.
Part of the postponement was the commission’s effort to ensure state-licensed businesses were ready to provide an adequate supply to both medical and adult-use customers.
But steam picked up April 11 when CRC officials announced at their regular meeting they were set to move forward with approving seven operators to begin selling adult-use cannabis at their existing medical dispensary locations. Three days later, Murphy announced that sales would begin April 21.
On Thursday, the governor said the state’s sales launch fulfilled one of his campaign promises.
“I know a lot of New Jerseyans have been waiting for today, including yours truly,” he said. “This is a moment I’m incredibly proud to see us get to. Getting to today was a cornerstone promise in social and economic justice that I made nearly six years ago when I first began seeking this office.
“Getting to this moment was also the hope of the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans who supported establishing our legal adult-use cannabis marketplace and industry in 2020. But what makes me even more proud is the way in which we got here.”
During the transition period of adding a new customer base to the cannabis retail market, Curaleaf officials stated in a press release that patient care for those under New Jersey’s medical cannabis program will remain a top priority for the company.
Curaleaf workers began serving adult-use customers at its Bellmawr dispensary on Thursday, allowing those 21 and older to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis per day.
“The launch of New Jersey’s adult-use marketplace is a major step forward for the cannabis industry and it is a