New York is getting legal weed, too — What NJ needs to worry about
It's been five months since New Jersey voters approved a recreational marijuana market for adults by a two to one margin.
And while the move did clear a path for a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy that sets up parameters for the state's legal marketplace, there's no real clue as to when selling will actually commence in the Garden State.
As of now, it's uncertain whether New Jersey will even begin with sales before neighboring New York, which legalized recreational pot in late March.
Rob Mejia, an adjunct professor of cannabis studies at Stockton University in Galloway, said a realistic timeline for New Jersey is another 12 months. New York can't launch its market until at least April 2022.
"I bet that we'll both open to adult use in a three-month window," Mejia told New Jersey 101.5.
Mejia noted New Jersey currently has an edge over the Empire State in the area of growing. New Jersey's 12 medical marijuana distribution centers are trying to ramp up operations quickly, in order to prove they have enough flower to serve their medical-use patients as well as recreational-use individuals. New York, meanwhile, has not allowed smoking as part of its medical marijuana program.
But the biggest driver for some consumers, at least early on with both markets running, could be price, Mejia suggested. In terms of smokable flower, he said, New Jersey currently has the most expensive medical cannabis in the country.
"If New York was actually to come in and have lower prices, you would have some people who would travel for lower prices," Mejia said.
Unlike New Jersey, New York is permitting stand-alone consumption lounges, and allowing individuals to grow their own marijuana.
Edmund Deveaux, president of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association, said New York shouldn't be seen as competition — this is the start of the "formation of the cannabis economy in the tri-state area." If New York offers certain marijuana experiences that the Garden State does not, perhaps New Jerseyans will take random trips across state lines to partake, just as they would for different dinner or entertainment options, he said.
"I don't see New York State negatively impacting New Jersey's economy," Deveaux said. "I think that we all benefit from movement forward."
Deveaux said New Jersey's progress toward an up-and-running legal market may be described by many as slow-moving, since Gov. Murphy envisioned legal weed in the first 100 days of his term, but the most important target right now is "getting it right."