After several months of delays, it appears that the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey is back on track. New Jersey residents, and others in the state, should soon be able to go to their local dispensaries to purchase marijuana for recreational use. That’s because NJ Gov. Phil Murphy recently affixed his signature to a law that will address logistical issues with the implementation of necessary measures to create the state’s adult-use cannabis market. What effect will marijuana legalization have on the New Jersey economy, and on the cannabis industry generally? Keep reading this blog to learn more.
NJ Governor Signs Law to Create Adult-Use Cannabis Market
On February 22, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that will essentially legalize recreational market and create a new cannabis market in the Garden State. The legislation makes it legal to purchase and use cannabis for recreational purposes and decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Although a ballot measure to legalize adult-use cannabis was approved by NJ voters on November 3, 2020, there was a holdup on implementation because of concerns raised by Governor Murphy: the governor refused to sign a bill to begin implementing cannabis legalization measures until state lawmakers approved a related bill to ensure that criminal penalties would remain on the books for underage marijuana use. That “clean-up bill” was subsequently passed by the New Jersey Assembly and the New Jersey Senate by overwhelming margins.
With many of the issues that were holding up adult-use cannabis legalization now on track to be resolved, state lawmakers believe that the legal sale of recreational marijuana in New Jersey could happen before the end of 2021. The state recently appointed five (5) members to a Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), an oversight agency which is in charge of regulating the medical marijuana program and developing rules and regulatory measures for the new recreational marijuana market. While many cannabis operators wishing to do business in New Jersey will need to apply for recreational cannabis licenses, some cannabis operators already have medical cannabis licenses and could seek quick approval for adult-use cannabis sales.
Economic Impact of Recreational Cannabis Legalization in NJ
Cannabis industry experts believe that the New Jersey adult-use cannabis market will generate more than $1 billion annually by 2024. This would make NJ the largest cannabis market on the East Coast and one of the leading cannabis markets in the entire country.
Of course, with New Jersey finally having legalized recreational marijuana, the question now becomes: when will New York legalize adult-use cannabis? Only time will tell on that one, but there is definitely momentum pushing New York towards full legalization of cannabis – especially as the U.S. Congress considers decriminalizing cannabis federally and more and more Americans indicate their support for full legalization of cannabis. Additionally, many industry observers believe that other states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia could soon follow New Jersey’s lead and legalize cannabis. Shortly after the NJ marijuana legalization ballot measure was approved by voters in the 2020 election, Steve Hawkins, the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “The passage of this ballot measure positions New Jersey to take the lead in the Northeast and will push neighboring states, like New York and Pennsylvania, to take action on marijuana legalization.”
Within New Jersey, the economic impact of legal recreational cannabis could be significant. Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, called the new law “historic” and predicted “phenomenal” business opportunities not just for cannabis investors and companies but also for NJ residents. Additionally, there could be a sizable benefit to related businesses like law firms and accounting firms that will be needed to assist cannabis operators.
Contact Scythian Real Estate for Assistance with Cannabis Operations in New Jersey and Across the U.S.
Scythian Cannabis Real Estate is a privately held cannabis real estate fund that provides financing and other operational assistance to some of the largest and most sophisticated cannabis operators in the country. To learn more, send us an email today.
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