Legal Marijuana Still Unattainable In New Jersey

Legal Marijuana Still Unattainable In New Jersey

By Sasha Budesa, Staff Writer

Nearly 17 months since New Jersey gave the go-ahead on legalization of marijuana use by adults, it is still nearly impossible to buy the plant in New Jersey. What’s taking so long?

Senate President Nicholas Scutari said in a statement on the delays in setting up a legal marijuana market, “We need to get the legal marijuana market up and running in New Jersey. This has become a failure to follow through on the public mandate and to meet the expectations for new businesses and consumers.”

Experts say such a delay between legalization and the start of recreational marijuana sales is not unusual: on average, states take about 16 1/2 months after legalization to begin the sale of marijuana

In New Jersey’s case, the delay has been blamed on the efforts of the state government to ensure equity in the marijuana industry.

The administration of Phil Murphy wants to ensure that the marijuana market in New Jersey is controlled by in-state operators, rather than multi-state corporations. Additionally, New Jersey regulators have set aside 30% of recreational marijuana licenses for minorities: mainly, women, people of color, and disabled veterans.

Many advocates for legal marijuana also note that New Jersey has stricter licensing requirements than other states, so some delay is normal.  The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission accepted sixty eight licenses for marijuana cultivators and manufacturers but rejected eight applications for recreational sale.

The government of New Jersey has expressed concern over not stressing the state’s supply of marijuana by starting up the recreational market too fast: according to regulators, the state is short about 100,000 pounds of marijuana to meet demand.

Amanda Rojas, a senior at Wayne Hills High School, said, “I feel as if they should take their time with selling marijuana in New Jersey, because the laws just started coming out.”