New Jersey's new adult-use cannabis industry managed to top $24 million in its first month of sales, despite a limited number of legal retail locations.
The Garden State's adult-use market finally opened its doors on April 21 after years of interminable delays. And even though the state managed to miss out on 4/20, 12 licensed recreational retailers still sold almost $1.9 million worth of legal bud to 12,438 happy customers that day. Within a week, total sales climbed to $5.5 million, and retailers have been averaging $5 million a week ever since.
All told, adult-use retailers sold $24,201,875 in 212,433 transactions during the first month of legal sales, according to the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). Each adult-use sale is subject to a 6.625% sales tax, a local tax of up to 2%, and a confusing excise tax of 33% per 1% of the average retail price of an ounce. Leafly estimated that the first month of sales will bring the state around $2 million in tax revenue.
These first-month figures are especially impressive given the fact that New Jersey hasn't even opened a single dedicated adult-use dispensary yet. Garden State voters legalized weed via a ballot measure back in 2020, but it took months for lawmakers to finalize the process, and well over a year to draft the final regulations. The CRC only just got around to issuing the first exclusive adult-use business licenses this month.
Fortunately, regulators decided to allow 13 medical marijuana dispensaries to start selling recreational pot while the licensing process dragged on. Twelve of these locations were ready for business on April 21, and the 13th kicked off recreational sales this week. Five more medical dispensaries just got approved to sell adult-use bud as well, and are expected to begin sales within the next three months.
But even with only a dozen adult-use retailers open for business, the Garden State still beat the other two states that began selling adult-use weed this year. New Mexico's legal market, which kicked off sales on April 1, made just over $22 million in adult-use sales in its first month, and Montana only sold $12.8 million in January, its first month of adult-use sales.
“It’s really only a beginning, and I think it shows that there’s a lot of growth left in this market,” said CRC executive director Jeff Brown to the New Jersey Monitor.
The market will certainly grow as soon as dedicated adult-use businesses are able to open their doors. This month, the CRC approved a total of 148 adult-use cultivation, manufacturing, and retail licenses, plus four testing labs. These licenses are still in the conditional stage, however, and applicants still need to find a permanent business location and receive municipal approval before they can receive their final license. With all these factors in play, it's hard to predict how long it will take for these new businesses to finally open their doors.
These new licenses are reserved for smaller businesses, and applicants must prove that they make under $200,000 a year, or $400,000 if filing jointly. Regulators are also reserving 30% of all total adult-use licenses for social equity applicants. At a recent meeting, the CRC announced that it will start releasing details on its social equity program on a quarterly basis starting in June.