New Jersey Dispensary Count Nearly Triples in 2023

January 2, 2024 · MG Magazine

New Jersey added fifty-seven licensed, operational dispensaries in 2023, the first full year of adult-use legalization in the state. When adult-use legislation went into effect in April 2022, only twenty-two recreational dispensaries existed to serve the state’s twenty-one counties and 9.3 million people.

This year seems poised to be another period of expansion. According to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), another sixteen retailers, five cultivators, three manufacturers, one wholesaler, two distributors, and two delivery services received conditional licenses in December, readying them to open in 2024. Commission Executive Director Jeff Brown expects regulations for consumption lounges to be approved this year, as well.

Brown also said sales from the new operations should push total cannabis revenue in the state above $1 billion in 2024. Sales from January through September 2023 totaled $578 million.

Despite a blooming legal industry, New Jersey operators suffer the same challenges besetting other areas. The illicit market tops the list. An ounce of flower in a legal dispensary can cost as much as $400, thanks in part to taxes, fees, and compliance costs at every point in the supply chain. On the illicit market, the same amount of flower goes for $150–$250.

The situation is exacerbated by state restrictions on product types, operators say. Under current regulations, New Jersey’s edibles selection is limited to “syrups, pills, tablets, capsules, and chewables.” That hurdle to profitability may be significantly reduced soon, though. The CRC recently concluded a public comment period on a proposed regulatory modification that would allow shops to sell single-serving infused beverages, “chocolates, gummies, baked goods, butters, jams, and jellies.” Brown believes the commission will approve the proposal.

Saturation is a legitimate concern, as well. Although New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country, it ranks forty-seventh out of fifty in land mass. Fully two-thirds of cities in the state prohibit dispensaries within their boundaries. That leaves the seventy-nine existing shops and the sixteen expected to open this year elbowing each other as they jockey to attract customers. (Full Story)

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