Marijuana is now legal in New Jersey. What does that mean and when can you buy it?
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a series of bills on Monday legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey and changing some of the laws surrounding the substance.
Once the legal cannabis industry is set up in the state, customers will likely be able to buy it in towns like Asbury Park, Jersey City and Paterson. All towns in New Jersey have 180 days to decide if they want to allow the sale of recreational marijuana in their town.
Once the shops are established, they will likely look like one of the 13 medical marijuana dispensaries already set up in New Jersey.
“I always like to say these cannabis retailers look more like a CVS or Rite Aid than a vape shop,” says Mike McQueeny, who specialized in cannabis law.
McQueeny says that he has been watching what has been happening in states like Colorado, Illinois and Oregon – states that already legalized recreational marijuana.
“These are responsible businesses that have high degrees of regulation and security associated with them,” McQueeny says.
In Illinois’s first year of recreational use, the state brought in $600 million in tax revenue. New Jersey townships embracing these shops will be able to take 2% tax on every sale.
One question on many New Jerseyans’ minds is if marijuana users will be allowed to light up on the street. This will not be allowed under the new law.
Sales are not restricted to New Jersey residents. Cities like Asbury Park expect not only tax revenue but will likely see their local business benefit as outsiders come to buy.
Customers will likely be able to purchase legal weed within six months. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will first need to get up and running and then they'll start reviewing license applications.
McQueeny says that this could be a very competitive process, adding that in a year from now New Jersey could see 50 to 100 shops open.
“Next Valentine’s Day, people could be buying sweethearts with a different kind of flower,” he says.
The bill signed by Murphy also allows help for so-called “micro-businesses” to set up in the industry.