TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey regulators on Monday gave a green light to seven facilities that already sell medical marijuana to also sell recreational cannabis, although it’s not clear exactly when sales would begin.
Sales could start in a matter of weeks or longer, but a specific date wasn’t set at the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s vote during a remotely held meeting. Three of the facilities, known as alternative treatment centers, are in the northern part of the state. Three are in the south, and one is in central New Jersey.READ MORE: Philadelphia School District Students, Staff To Resume Masking As COVID Cases Continue To Rise In City
The timing of the start of sales is unclear in part because the facilities must still pass a regulatory inspection of their operations and be issued new licenses.
The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association, a trade group that advocates for the alternative treatment centers, estimated that recreational retail sales could start as soon as the end of April, according to spokesperson Pamela Dollak. But it could vary by location as each center faces compliance and other considerations.
Retail sales for the general public would start in 13 dispensaries operated by the seven treatment centers across the state.
To get approval, the facilities have agreed that the coming influx of recreational buyers won’t interrupt access for patients who are currently using medical marijuana. The facilities said they would reserve parking spaces for patients as well as keep hours specifically for patients only.READ MORE: West Philly Double Shooting Leaves 30-Year-Old Man Dead, Teen Hospitalized: Police
There are about 130,000 medical marijuana patients in the state, with an estimated roughly 800,000 potential recreational consumers, and fewer than 800,000 estimated “tourism” consumers, according to the commission.
“These approvals were given based on commitments from the ATCs that we would not see adverse effects with expansion,” commission chairperson Dianna Houenou said. “Expansion into the adult-use market — with a substantial advantageous start ahead of new applicants — is a privilege that must not be taken lightly. ”
The vote comes about a year after the commission started operating, and a year and a half after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to permit recreational marijuana for people 21 and older.
New Jersey is one of 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, that legalized recreational marijuana. There also are 37 states, including New Jersey, that have legalized medical marijuana.MORE NEWS: Police Investigating Series Of Gunpoint Robberies In Center City, West Philadelphia
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