Providing Education & Information on
New Jersey’s legal cannabis industry.
In November 2020, New Jersey voters passed the Marijuana Legalization Referendum with 67 percent of the vote, yet nearly three years later, less than four dozen dispensaries are operating statewide in New Jersey. Despite this limited access, within the first year of the adult-use marketplace opening in April 2022, one-third of New Jersey adults report using a cannabis product, generating more than $55 million in cannabis sales and $20 million in state tax revenues. The handful of municipalities with an adult-use cannabis dispensary earned $4.6 million in local sales taxes within the first eight months of the adult-use marketplace.
As both voters and consumers, New Jerseyans have repeatedly and enthusiastically declared their support for legal cannabis. Yet, many municipalities have either ‘banned’ cannabis businesses or failed to establish the local policies necessary for the industry to move forward in their communities. In many cases, these policies and decisions are being driven by misinformation and fears that are not based in fact and lack transparency and accountability.
Legal cannabis is a highly regulated product that is subjected to the strictest quality and safety testing and assurance, is carefully labeled, and is dispensed by trained professionals. Dispensaries are secure, restricted facilities. A customer must produce valid, state-issued identification proving they are 21 years of age or older in order to enter a dispensary. Research shows that legal cannabis marketplaces displace the illicit market, reducing under-age users’ access to dangerous substances.
No one disputes that thoughtfulness, care and caution must be exercised in establishing a complex new industry, but given the significant tax revenues and other community benefits at stake, local governments must make sure their constituents are properly educated about adult-use cannabis, and that local cannabis policies are responsible, transparent based on facts.
Studies examining the impact of the legal, adult-use cannabis industry on local communities have found that having a regulated cannabis industry in your community diverts resources away from criminal enterprises and leads to improved public health and safety.
Given the potential community benefits of a regulated cannabis marketplace, local governments must act responsibly to educate their constituents and enact policies based on facts—not misinformation, fear or politics. Contact your local leaders today.
New Jersey gave municipalities broad authority to tailor the operation of the industry to the unique needs and character of their communities. State licenses are issued conditionally upon local approvals. However, despite the resounding support for the Marijuana Legalization Referendum, about 400 municipalities have either failed to enact the appropriate ordinances or establish efficient or functional mechanisms for processing local approvals, or have ‘opted out’ or ‘banned’ cannabis.
Between the opening day of the market on April 21, 2022 and December 31, 2022, New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis marketplace generated $328 million in sales and $20 million in state sales tax revenues. New Jersey’s medical cannabis program, established more than a decade ago, generated $226 million in sales in 2022. In the first quarter of 2023, New Jersey’s medical and adult-use cannabis industries generated $179 million in combined sales.
In addition to state sales tax, municipalities can levy a 2 percent sales tax on both medical and adult-use sales. Medicinal patients are exempt from state sales tax but not exempt from local tax.
ATC’s that convert into adult-use must provide special services to medical patients–priority parking, exclusive hours, expedited check out lines, medical-specific products.
Legal, regulated cannabis products are subject to strict lab testing and systems for quality and safety assurance. Products are free of pesticides and contaminants and are carefully labelled to disclose excipients used; potential allergens; potential dangers of using cannabis; instructions on reporting adverse events; information on tolerance, dependence, and substance abuse; warnings against the misuse of cannabis and situations where cannabis should not be used or could be harmful to the consumer.
Licensed cannabis dispensaries are subject to enhanced security measures that include restricted areas, accessible only by trained professionals, from which all cannabis products are dispensed; DEA-rated reinforced vaults for cannabis storage; on-site security personnel; 24/7 video surveillance accessible to law enforcement and regulators.
According to a 2017 study published by the National Institutes of Health, cannabis is not a ‘gateway’ drug but an ‘exit drug’ that has dramatically reduced the use of dangerous medications; medical cannabis patients reported a 76 percent drop in opioid use; 66 percent decrease in migraine medication; 42 percent decrease in alcohol use; 65 percent decrease in sleep medication; 71 percent decrease in anti-anxiety medication and 37 percent drop in anti-depressant use.
Cannabis customers must provide a state-issued ID proving they are age 21 or older to be admitted to a licensed cannabis dispensary. Licensed dispensaries risk valuable state licenses, as well as substantial fines and other penalties, from making underage or illegal sales. Illicit street dealers, on the other hand, have a profit incentive to sell to minors, and to upsell customers to more dangerous and addictive drugs.
A 2019 report from Regional Science and Economics found that legal, regulated cannabis markets displace illicit criminal organizations, shrink the market for illegal substances, decrease crime, and frees up law enforcement resources for other purposes.
In addition to state sales tax, New Jersey municipalities can leverage a 2 percent local sales tax on cannabis. Communities with adult-use cannabis dispensaries have earned millions of dollars in local tax revenues within the first eight months of the adult-use marketplace. None of them have experienced negative impacts on their quality of life or public safety.
Medical Cannabis Vs. Adult-Use
New Jersey’s medical cannabis program has been operating for more than a decade. There are currently 105,000 patients and 5600 caregivers enrolled in the program. Patients who are diagnosed with a condition eligible for cannabis treatment can obtain a prescription card from the state, and purchase cannabis products at a licensed Alternative Treatment Center.
Now that adult-use is legal, individuals over the age of 21 can purchase cannabis at a licensed dispensary. However, ATC’s can only serve prescription patients unless they are permitted by local ordinance to expand into adult-use. At ATC’s that expand into adult-use, medical patients receive priority hours and parking, exclusive products, separate checkout lines, and are exempt from state sales tax.
Poll Gives High Marks to N.J.’s Legal Weed Dispensaries /// stockton.edu
NJ’s legal cannabis industry needs fewer regulations, faster approvals to grow /// njspotlightnews.org
New Jersey Marijuana Regulators Grilled By Lawmakers During Lengthy Hearing On Legalization Implementation /// marijuanamoment.net
N.J. legal weed launched a year ago, but few new shops are opening. Here’s why. /// nj.com
Paid for by Project NJ: Building for a Better Future