Cannabis Legalization in New Jersey: What Does the Path from Bill Approval to Open Dispensaries Look Like?

The Garden State became the 14th state in the United States to legalize medical marijuana back in 2010. However, it was not until last November that residents took to the ballots to vote in favor of recreational use. The recently approved ” Bil A-21” — also known as the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act” — is a promising milestone for New Jerseyans in the path towards legal weed production and commercialization. 

What’s Next for Cannabis Legalization in New Jersey?

The new marketplace initiatives will surely drive money back into the Garden State and create new job opportunities. Yet, implementing them requires careful examination to ensure the legislation’s layout is fair and safe for all New Jerseyans.

Yes, weed is now legal in the New Jersey. However, it will undoubtedly be a while before the state sees it’s first open, recreational  dispensary. As seen in other states, the regulatory process is quite lengthy. Before anything happens, ordinances must be meticulously written, and licenses need to be awarded. Once those two steps are complete, applicants must still:

  • Determine which license they will apply for
  • Create their business plan
  • Source Funding 
  • Locate property and build out their facility

What Has Legalization Looked Like in Other States?

While legislators might have a rough idea of what needs to be done after a legalization bill passes, they need time to discuss all minor details down to the packaging restrictions, security requirements, social equity programs, and other crucial matters. It’s not until everything is agreed upon that they can start awarding the first licenses. 

But holding a license doesn’t necessarily mean people can start selling right away. Once a license is awarded then the business plan actually goes into action and the facilities must be built out and then the planting and harvesting process can even further lengthen the wait.

In most states where legalization bills have passed, it typically takes about one year (sometimes much longer) for everything to fall into place. In Michigan, for example, citizens had to wait for about 11 months for state officials to start processing license applications. Colorado and Washington approved legalization in late 2012 but didn’t start selling until 2014. Californians had a similar timeline, passing their bill in 2016 and not selling a single ounce until 2018.

A Hypothetical Timeline for New Jerseyan Weed Entrepreneurs

The good news is that the Cannabis Regulatory Commission — the organization in charge of establishing marijuana regulations in New Jersey — had its first meeting back in April. This only means the clock is already ticking. If everything goes according to plan, they should have a much clearer picture of the steps they should take towards cannabis legalization in New Jersey by the third quarter of 2021.

Once the commission decides how the cannabis industry shapes up and makes recommendations regarding taxes, they will set the market’s size and agree on a tentative date to start awarding licenses. From that point, the license winners will need to make their facilities operational and produce their first products. Experts estimate the Garden State residents should see their first official marijuana sales somewhere in 2022.

The Takeaway

Cannabis legalization in New Jersey is following the state norm when it comes to the gap between bill approval and legal retail sales. New Jerseyans have no other choice but to wait for things to develop.

If you’re thinking about joining the cannabis production and sales industry in New Jersey licenses d, Bespoke Financial is here to support you. Book a consultation today to find the best marijuana financing options for you.

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