New Jersey’s governor says the state’s recreational market is coming “within weeks,” Democrats struggle to make progress on cannabis legalization, and Veriheal released its first annual medical cannabis preference report.
Let’s dive into this week’s cannanews.
New Jersey’s Upcoming Recreational Market Faces Last-Minute Barriers
After a year-plus wait, recreational cannabis is finally making its way to New Jersey. In late February, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that the state’s recreational market could be up and running “within weeks”. The governor’s announcement came after the state blew by the initial Feb. 22 deadline to launch its recreational market.
Despite its late start, the Garden State is still poised to become one of the largest cannabis markets on the East Coast. Sales projections see the state’s cannabis market making over $2 billion within a few years.
Not everyone is as optimistic about New Jersey’s upcoming market though. Industry insiders have voiced their worries about the state’s plans to only allow existing medical marijuana (MMJ) establishments to sell during the recreational market’s opening months. According to experts, these restrictions could give existing MMJ establishments up to an 18-month head start on new cannabis businesses.
Not only is this inequitable, but it also means that the state could experience some major supply shortages early on. “We could have only five operators trying to meet the initial demand of the entire state…It’s almost naive to think we aren’t going to run into some issues,” said Rob DiPisa, co-chair of the cannabis law practice at a New Jersey firm.
Another major issue facing the state’s soon-to-open recreational market is real estate. As part of the voter-backed bill that legalized recreational cannabis, municipalities were allowed to opt out of allowing retail stores in their area. Surprisingly, over 70% of New Jersey towns opted out.
With only 30% of the state’s towns available to do business in, intense bidding wars have predictably erupted. Due to already limited funds and connections, social equity applicants are the most disadvantaged when it comes to securing storefronts under these conditions.
What do you think of New Jersey’s forthcoming retail cannabis market? Do you think its early issues will stunt its potential growth? Let us know in the comments!
Democrats’ Plans for Cannabis Legalization Hit a Wall
The 2020 elections ended with Democratic leadership riding high. A newly acquired Senate majority meant that Democrats finally had a chance to pass progressive policies following years of Republican control. Near the top of the party’s priorities was ending the federal prohibition of cannabis.
As with many of the Democrats’ promises from the election cycle, however, internal conflicts and a lack of compromise from the Republican party have made it nearly impossible to pass legislation.
“I’m very frustrated and really disappointed,” said Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.). “Polling in this country is off the charts that people want to normalize the use of cannabis…So what’s the hang-up?” Correa is spot on with his frustrations—recent polls show that 57% of Americans want cannabis to be legalized, including 40% of Republicans. Despite this overwhelming support, however, cannabis legislation has perpetually been hitting a wall.
Earlier this month, for example, Congress started work on a new government funding bill. During negotiations, a major point of disagreement popped up. Democrats wanted to eliminate an addition to the bill dubbed the “Harris Rider,” which would continue to bar the legalization of cannabis sales in Washington, D.C. despite D.C. voters having passed a recreational cannabis bill over seven years ago.
Republicans, however, wouldn’t budge on their opposition to removing the Harris Rider. Thus, the rider stayed in, and D.C. residents continued to be denied the cannabis legalization they approved.
Despite some early bumps along the road, Democrats insist that they will continue making moves to get federal cannabis policy passed. Early last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he hoped to introduce a bill to federally decriminalize cannabis in April. With only nine months left with the current Congress, Democrats will have to make a strong push if they hope to make good on their promise.
What do you think of the many challenges that Democrats have faced in passing cannabis legalization? Do you believe they will be able to get it done before the next election cycle? Let us know in the comments!
Veriheal Unveils First Annual Medical Cannabis Preference Report
On Tuesday, Veriheal officially released its first annual medical cannabis preference report. The report features gender-specific data from over 125,000 U.S. medical patients between the ages of 18 and 85 and provides key insights into all things medical cannabis, such as patient product preferences and reasons for use.
Included in the report are findings that show men have a strong preference for flower over edibles. Women, meanwhile, remain more agnostic. In addition, the report found that while men most often use cannabis for relaxation (67%), women mainly use the plant for stress relief (72%).
Interested in learning more? Click here to view the full report.
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