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Murphy Signs Bills Officially Legalizing Cannabis in New Jersey

February 23, 2021

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed the three bills yesterday that will collectively legalize recreational cannabis and establish its marketplace. Though voters approved the issue in November’s election, the state could not move forward with the numerous tasks involved in establishing a functional recreational cannabis market until these bills became law. New Jersey is expected easily to be the largest cannabis market on the east coast for the foreseeable future, with the potential to reach $1 billion annually within only a few years.

“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I’ve strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis,” Murphy said. “New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model.”

Under the most optimistic of estimates, recreational sales could begin by the end of the year. But the state’s newly created Cannabis Regulatory Commission is not yet fully staffed and it has six months to establish its full regulatory framework before it begins accepting submissions for business licenses. Nonetheless, New Jersey’s 13 existing medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell to the general public once they can demonstrate they have adequate reserves for medical cardholders. And the state’s developed production infrastructure, which includes players like Curaleaf, Acreage, Green Thumb, and Columbia Care, means efforts to bolster supply are already underway.—Danny Sullivan

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