Why won’t New Jersey’s adult use cannabis market launch on the international cannabis “holiday” of 4/20, or April 20?
It turns out that it is because of the increased interest and hype that the day brings, regulators told Cannabis Wire.
A total of 13 medical cannabis shop locations run by seven companies were granted approval during the April 11 Cannabis Regulatory Commission meeting to expand into adult use sales. Those seven are, in alphabetical order: Acreage Holdings, Ascend Wellness Holdings, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, Green Thumb Industries, TerrAscend and Verano Holdings.
The shops approved for April 21 sales include locations near New York City and Philadelphia that likely would have seen a flood of cross-border 4/20 traffic. Right now, the nearest legal adult use shop to either city is Massachusetts, a minimum three-hour drive from both. Starting Thursday, legal shops will be under an hour away from both.
“Selecting 4/20 for opening day would have presented unmanageable logistical challenges for patients and other buyers, surrounding communities, and for municipalities,” Cannabis Regulatory Commission spokesperson Toni-Anne Blake told Cannabis Wire. “Regulators and industry representatives agreed that it was not feasible.”
New Jersey regulators pumped the brakes in March by tabling a measure that would have expanded the state’s medical cannabis shops to adult use, repeatedly expressing concern that the wave of new customers would drown out the needs of patients. CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said in March that “there were no market-wide shortages of products, and patients could continue to access their medicine” during pandemic-related restrictions in part because of regulatory and industry “collaboration.”
“We are once again at the precipice of an event that will bring stressors on the market, albeit for a much more positive reason, the launching of recreational cannabis sales, but nonetheless an event that needs to be planned for, to ensure that patients can continue to access their medicine,” Brown said.
All 13 shops will open their doors for adult use sales on April 21, Blake told Cannabis Wire on Tuesday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information to reflect that all 13 shops will be open on April 21.