A recently released industry report warns that New Jersey’s limited number of legal, licensed and regulated drug dispensaries could undermine the state’s ability to curb the market. bad drug.
Of the 14 states across the United States with legal adult-use markets, New Jersey – with a population of 9.2 million – has the fewest stores per capita, coming in at 0.3 pharmacies for per 100,000 people, according to a study done in collaboration between drug use. and education website Leafly.com and research firm Whitney Economics.
Although the government launched recreational drug sales in April, legal street vendors still account for more than 80% of the market, researchers said. As of July 1, the 26 adult-use and prescription drug stores licensed and operated in New Jersey accounted for less than 20% of legal sales, the report found.
In contrast, Montana and New Mexico, which also started recreational sales this year, have more stores and can command a larger portion of the demand.
According to the report, Montana had 39 stores per 100,000 residents, capturing 78% of sales, while New Mexico’s six stores per 100,000 residents handled 75% of all sales. want
After examining various sales, demographic and adult-use market data from states and legalized recreational drug sales markets, the researchers found a strong link between legal drug stores for each and capture the legal market. According to the study, states with more legal, licensed and regulated stores are more successful in putting illegal drug dealers out of business, while those with fewer dispensaries are the most of street vendors.
Shaya Brodchandel, president of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association, said, “The promise of legalization of the drug is something that those who have worked for many years in a corrupt market system can participate in. to an exciting, growing and legal industry. Government regulators are important to those who want to transfer to the legal market and generate taxes for the government, and the ability to strengthen and close those who continue to practice law.
Brodchandel, who is also the CEO of Harmony Dispensary said, “While I would like to see things move forward from a legal perspective, I also have to accept that it takes time to create a new market. in the right way.”
Before New Jersey’s legalization of the recreational market began, 71% of municipalities prohibited the sale, cultivation, manufacture and distribution of marijuana. Drug dealers have few legal options and ultimately create “an economic buffer zone for illegal street dealers to do business,” the report said.
By cracking down on the drug industry, local officials encourage adult consumers to buy illegal products, endangering public health by selling untested products and keeping the illegal sales to local youth, the report said. Doing so would hinder local job creation and limit tax revenue opportunities, as well as the ongoing war on drugs.
Some officials believe that these decisions should be reconsidered to publish. After seeing Rochelle Park collect 2% of local tax revenue from all sales at Ascend Pharmacy, Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera wondered why his region.
The Democratic mayor said he believes it’s “a financial vacuum for Paramus” and that it would be “stupid and unreasonable” for officials to reduce “this kind of gas without giving some of that revenue to the taxpayers.”
But in August the county council, which has a Republican majority, rejected the mayor’s proposal to amend Paramus’ prescription drug laws to include recreational sales.
Location, location, locations
Meanwhile, other parts of New Jersey are grappling with how best to integrate new businesses into their communities.
In response to public concerns, the Hoboken City Council has taken steps to limit the number of recreational drug businesses allowed in the city, and where those establishments can set up shop. The changes made in April include a cap of six dispensaries across the city, no more than three per ward, and no drug business within 600 walking distance from a school or early childhood education center.
In addition to high start-up costs and access to capital, location is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face when it comes to introducing themselves to New Jersey’s new drug industry.
For Maxwell Thompson and Lauren Jordan Chang Thompson, finding a good location to open their proposed Blue Violets LLC dispensary was not easy, and it took them five months to find a home.
A married couple from Weehawken received all local permits from the City of Hoboken to open a cannabis business on Washington Street and are now licensed by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission .
“The biggest challenges are first finding the property, then moving in with the local board’s approvals,” said Chang Thompson, who said the process, at this point, is almost 10 months.
It’s about read
“As small businessmen we are trying to do what we can only so that our savings can be enough to invest in our store when we get a license from the government, ” said Chang Thompson. , a registered nurse. “It was difficult for us to pay rent for the space for that period and not open, but we did the math and thought that if everything went right, we would be able to operate for a short period of time. But there are many delays, so we have to be very careful with our spending for the store and our lives. It’s the same amount of money for us, so we’ve left a lot of things for now.”
“On top of that, we were bullied by a minority of anti-cannabis voices throughout most of the regional approval process,” he said. “We weren’t quite ready for that, but we did it. Most of the people in our town helped to support it.
Maxwell Thompson believes that there are few ways to make the whole process work for candidates. “At the government level, more clarity from the CRC about where the applications are in the review process will help. In today’s submission portal, the status of the applicant will be “Just saying ‘Submitted’ doesn’t translate into any progress. Knowing what documents are being reviewed and what’s left makes it easier to estimate times,” said Thompson, an attorney. .
“At the local level, councils need to do more to protect their local businesses as they launch. Legal changes, unclear advice and politics have all led to disaster. in our situation, and we have heard the same in other cities,” he said.
To date, the CRC has issued approximately 1,700 compulsory drug licenses, including 900 to pharmaceutical agencies. After receiving a conditional license, applicants have 120 days to find a location and obtain city approval before converting to a standard, annual license.
At its meeting on October 27, the board signed 297 conditional licenses and the first 18 annual business licenses for adult drug users – 10 of which were conversion requests to annual licenses and eight year license applications.
CRC Chairwoman Dianna Houenou called the agreements “a special sign for the commission and New Jersey’s new agency” and part of their work to ensure “best practices.”
In his monthly call-in show with WNYC on Oct. 31, Governor Phil Murphy said he believes regulators and regulators are working hard to stabilize the market but acknowledged it will take “longer than one’s will.”
“But they do a really good job with things like conditional licenses… with people [who] there are many women, small children and soldiers of the leaders,” said the governor.
Murphy added, “I don’t want an industry that only has big people. They can be a part of it, but I want everyone, especially people who have been badly affected by the war on drugs.
Currently, eight out-of-state entities own and operate all 20 dispensaries licensed to sell adult-use drugs throughout New Jersey.
An important aspect of federal drug law is that more than 70% of the tax revenue generated from recreational sales is invested in affected areas, communities with higher unemployment rates and crime rates. and drug addiction.
After the recommendation of the CRC and the approval of the Department of Finance, some of those funds are being distributed to the New Jersey Business Action Center to establish a Cannabis Training Center for those who want to break into the industry. The 10-week program, expected to take place in the first half of 2023, will provide free technical assistance, training and mentoring to applicants seeking recreational drug licenses.
The proposed curriculum includes modules designed to help participants decide if the drug business is right for them, including business plan development and a Legacy to Legal course.
Some of the program’s resources will focus on “Special Sectors,” which include social justice businesses, alternative businesses, engineering firms, and Business Zones, according to NJBAC.