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New Jersey Cannabis Sales Can Start Any Time, Key Players Assert

November 2, 2021

Recreational cannabis sales in New Jersey are ready to begin whenever state regulators give the green light, according to the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA). The group, whose membership includes many of the heavy hitters in the state—including Acreage Holdings, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, TerrAscend, and Verano, among others—released a fiery statement calling on the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission to institute adult-use sales without further delay. Once up and running, New Jersey is expected to rapidly develop into a $1 billion cannabis market.

As the group’s statement notes, the state’s Regulatory Commission is empowered to commence recreational sales at any time between August 22, 2021 and February 22, 2022. The ostensible reason to hold off on allowing extant retail locations to begin serving the general public in addition to medical patients is the question of supply—inventory problems have been a common headache when a state transitions from a medical regime to a recreational one and regulators try to ensure that medical consumers aren’t left out in the cold, unable to procure necessary medication.

But supply constraints are not a concern at this point, Curaleaf regional president Patrik Jonsson tells SND Cannabis Edition. “Curaleaf has been actively preparing for New Jersey’s legalization by initially tripling our cultivation capabilities and expanding our retail footprint in the state,” he said. “We currently have enough flower to not only supply the medical but also some of the adult use market without impacting the experience of our existing patients.” Curaleaf says it only needs 25%-35% of its current grow to supply New Jersey’s medical market.

The NJCTA trade group added, “New Jersey’s operators have been working non-stop and investing substantial time, money, and resources into expanding their operations to prepare for recreational sales—hiring more staff, building more distribution centers, expanding cultivation sites. They are ready to open for adult-use sales today. It cannot be emphasized enough that the Alternative Treatment Centers in New Jersey have ample supply and resources to service adult-use consumers now without harming access for NJ’s medical patients.”

The Regulatory Commission remains concerned about supply, however. Its executive director Jeff Brown cited rising patient counts: currently about 5,300, up from 3,200 in 2017. The Commission also recently missed its deadline to start accepting applications for new cannabis business licenses in September, fueling concerns that it will also fail to enact recreational sales by February.

While New Jersey moves closer to recreational sales, neighboring New York could be in for a long delay. New York Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said it’s unlikely that the state will begin issuing licenses for another 18 months. That delay promises to boost New Jersey’s early recreational sales until the Empire State gets out of the blocks.—Danny Sullivan

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