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New Jersey weed goes recreational next week

Seven dispensaries (called alternative treatment centers) have licenses to open for business.

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Next week, New Jersey residents will be able to legally purchase recreational marijuana products at their local dispensary, just over a year after a majority of voters checked yes on a ballot question on marijuana sales for people ages 21 and older. 

“Starting on April 21, adults ages 21+ will be able to legally purchase cannabis and cannabis products without a medical card. This is a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry,” Gov. Phil Murphy wrote in a tweet on Wednesday, April 14. 

The state’s medical marijuana program was established in 2010 and it now serves about 130,000 patients. 

New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) plans to issue licenses to seven medical marijuana dispensaries, which are officially called alternative treatment centers. 

These seven centers are now permitted to sell adult-use cannabis at 13 locations throughout the state, and it is up to each of them to decide when they will open. 

Recreational consumers will be able to buy up to 1.0 ounce in a single transaction when licensed centers open.

The CRC said it would publish a list of which locations will be open on the 21st as soon as the alternative treatment centers make their decisions. 

The commission on Monday gave initial approval to seven alternative treatment centers: Curaleaf, Verano, GTI, Acreage, TerrAscend, Columbia Care and Ascend Wellness.

“New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly to have access to adult-use cannabis and it is now here. I am very proud of the work the Commission has done over the past year to open the market. We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start,”  CRC executive director Jeff Brown said in a statement. 

Six of the approved treatment centers told NJ Advance Media that they intend to open at least some of the facilities on the 21st. 

The state is expecting to have up to 800,000 recreational marijuana consumers, in addition to the thousands of others who will travel out of state to purchase the drug. 

The legislation includes a 6.625% tax on recreational marijuana products, along with local taxes. A significant portion of these proceeds — 70% — will be dedicated to parts of the state that have disproportionately high rates of cannabis-related arrests, which primarily affects communities of color. 

“A socially equitable cannabis market will have substantial representation of those communities in employment and in ownership and these companies that have been benefitting from the market for the past 12 years – and are now expanding into the lucrative recreational space – have a role in helping to accomplish that,” said Wesley McWhite III, NJ-CRC’s director of Diversity and Inclusion. 

The approved centers and their satellite stores will be the only facilities selling marijuana to both the medical and recreational market in the Garden State until smaller centers are given approval. 

The CRC has approved 102 conditional licenses for smaller manufacturers, but it would take up to a year for these operations to begin selling cannabis. 

New Jersey is now one of 18 states, including the District of Columbia, where residents can legally purchase recreational weed. 

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