When the deadline arrived in August 2021, about 70% of New Jersey municipalities had passed ordinances stating that no business related to the state’s legal recreational market could operate within their boundaries.
But the number of cities opting out has dwindled since last summer as municipalities learned more about New Jersey’s cannabis rules. And experts expect dozens, if not hundreds more cities to green light marijuana operations over the next two years.
“I think a lot of cities will start signing up because they’ll see it’s a compliant business, there really isn’t a lot of drama…and they’ll also see the opportunities economic,” said Rob Mejia, lead instructor for University of Stockton Minor in Cannabis Studies.
The market doesn’t just translate into tax revenue for the city, Mejia said — there are great opportunities for building a dispensary, for example, as well as jobs.
“Cannabis is currently the fastest growing industry in the country, and every time you move from a medical market to an adult market, your cannabis job market grows up to 10 times what he was,” he said.
On April 21, the day the New Jersey market opened, 12 dispensaries took in a total of about $1.9 million.
Cities that have opted out are free to participate at any time, by modifying an existing ordinance or adopting a new one. Municipalities that chose to allow cannabis operations in town, however, would have to wait 5 years before abandoning the industry. Cities are not allowed to refuse delivery.
“Several municipalities that have opted out of their options are currently evaluating these regulations and market development to determine their best next steps,” said Michael Cerra, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities.
Dover, Maplewood and South Orange are just a few cities that had passed temporary bans against the legal sale of cannabis, but have since decided to go into the market.
“A lot of towns pulled out just to find out what was going on,” said Morristown Fox Rothschild partner Fruqan Mouzon. “Because it’s brand new, a lot of people were hesitant.”
Mouzon noted that unsubscribes aren’t just an inconvenience to potential consumers; they also prevent potential business owners from obtaining a “microlicense”, specifically designed for small family operations majority-owned by a local resident.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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