The citizens of New Jersey could start buying legal weed in a few weeks. This was confirmed by the NJ governor Phil Murphy after the state’s marijuana sale failed to kick off on Tuesday, February 2022. The governor announced on Wednesday during a radio appearance.
Following his confirmation, NJ legal weed users for recreational purposes now hope they might start visiting weed dispensaries as early as March 2022. According to the governor, he hopes legal weed NJ users will see a clear development on the medical dispensaries, with some of them beginning to sell recreational marijuana.
New Jersey currently has 23 medical cannabis dispensaries associated with 10 weed companies. The companies have applied for NJ legal weed sale licenses. They have been granted licenses for both recreational and medical use of marijuana. Weed legalization NJ allows adults 21 years old and above to use recreational marijuana.
The licensing authority in NJ is the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. New legal weed NJ dispensary operators who wish to apply for licenses will begin applications on March 15, 2022. However, the new applications will be taken through a strict review process.
The state currently has more than 117 thousand patients registered under the medical cannabis program. The patients are mostly located in Ocean, Monmouth, and Camden Counties. The already licensed dispensaries were asked to ensure they have enough cannabis products supplies for both medical and recreational use.
Weed legalization NJ was approved in 2020 by voters
Voters victoriously approved weed legalization NJ in November 2020, although no sales have been made since then. Although dispensary owners applied to sell legal weed NJ, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission says it’s still reviewing the applications. The commission could not meet its February 22 self-declared deadline.
According to the commission’s executive director Jeff Brown, a few issues have to be dealt with before NJ legal weed sales kick-off. One of the issues is the mandatory requirement for the municipality where the dispensaries are located to buy in.
The municipal officials must agree and confirm in writing their backing of the dispensaries as alternatives for treatment. The confirmation letters show they have permitted NJ legal weed dispensaries to be open in their communities and to sell both medical and recreational use marijuana.
Municipal approvals are one of the major hindrances that are pulling back the commission from giving the go-ahead for NJ legal weed sales. The second major issue is the supply of cannabis and its products.
Everything has to be done according to law
Despite these two blocking issues, Brown says the commission is still bound by the weed legalization NJ laws and guidelines which it has to follow to the letter. He said the commission wants to see the marijuana industry starting in New Jersey, but it must be done within what the law allows.
In the meantime, some cannabis suppliers have spoken about their concern with the licensing process that seems to drag itself for too long. They complained their stocks could go to waste soon, forcing them to destroy them. They could also be forced by circumstances to lay off their workers sooner if the approvals take longer.
The New Jersey governor Murphy reiterated by saying he personally campaigned for weed legalization NJ in 2017, but the process is taking longer than initially expected. “Nevertheless, it is better to be right than to be fast.” Said the Democrat. He hopes all will go well and New Jersey citizens will get the cannabis products in the market soon.
According to weed legalization NJ laws, the regulating authority is required to seek public approval through a public vote for the applications to be approved. Without a public vote, no local weed dispensary can be approved to open its doors for sales. The authority will meet on Thursday, although the NJ legal weed applications are not part of the agenda. The next meeting will be on March 24, 2022.
Ensuring equity amidst tension
Governor Murphy has been put under great pressure to ensure cannabis sales start sooner than later. After New Jersey citizens voted for weed legalization in NJ, the governor signed it into law in 2021. Stakeholders feel it is taking too long to bring weed into the market due to complex legal processes.
The governor insisted that ensuring equity in the cannabis market is essential to his government. The processes of ensuring equity is achieved at all levels have made everything more complex. “Getting it off the ground has been a daunting task, but it is necessary to get everything right.” Said the governor.
A certain level of tension has been witnessed between some advocates, administrators, and stakeholders over the prolonged license issuance period. Some of the parties have raised concerns that some community members that have been affected by marijuana criminalization are going to lag.
The regulatory commission chair Dianna Houenou says the state will favor the giant multi-state companies if they currently allow the opening of stand-alone recreational-use marijuana shops. According to him, there is a need to ensure the authority is ready to allow sales to start without, which will pose risks to medical cannabis users. The state might likely experience long queues at the shops and orders waiting to be supplied, which will lead to a huge supply crisis.
There is a problem already because the regulators cannot assure the public how many outlets out of the 44 that are already licensed are owned by the black community. Recently, a US congressman was critical of Murphy’s office, raising concerns that the minorities are not represented in the cannabis industry as required by law.
While on an interview with WGBO, one caller asked the governor whether the state would allow adult users to grow their own marijuana. This clause was not included in the weed legalization NJ laws signed by the governor last year, which led to a lot of frustration from the advocates.
While answering the telephone call, the governor said he has never been against this issue, but he hadn’t spoken about it to the legislature. However, it’s something he was willing to be open-minded about. The marijuana decriminalization law in NY took effect on July 1, 2021, and since then, the courts have expunged over 362 thousand cannabis cases.