Adult-use cannabis legalization in New Jersey likely to stimulate similar moves in nearby states

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

In November, a recreational market in New Jersey could be launched. Should legalization be successfully voted on, billions of dollars worth of business opportunities could flourish.

Home to almost nine million people, New Jersey’s prospective adult-use market is anticipated to attract $850 million-$950 million in annual sales by the year 2024. This is according to sales forecasts published in Marijuana Business Daily.

It’s not just the business opportunities and revenue that make the prospect of legal weed in New Jersey appealing but also, the fact that legalization could prompt nearby states to follow suit.

Investors and cannabis industry analysts are keeping a close eye on four states in particular: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New York. Collectively, these states have already been discussing the likelihood of legalization; particularly if New Jersey takes the leap.

Even if the aforementioned states don’t make the move to legalize adult-use cannabis, the combined population of 37 million will be attractive to New Jersey’s cannabis businesses. Why? Because permitting legal weed sales could encourage cannabis consumers in those states to take a trip to the state.

Most CPAs think adult-use cannabis in New Jersey will be an economy booster

In August, a survey was conducted by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA). The results showed that two out of three certified public accountants think commercial cannabis legalization in New Jersey could bolster the state’s economy. 

The report saw the NJCPA survey 924 CPAs, with 68 percent of those surveyed saying they either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that legalization will strengthen the economy.

A separate survey carried out in July revealed that New Jersey’s cannabis legalization proposal is favored by residents by a margin of 68 percent-26 percent, with an additional six percent still unsure. The poll was carried out by New York-headquartered DKC Analytics and commissioned by the cannabis law practice of New Jersey-based Brach Eichler.

In an attempt to prepare for an adult-use market, cultivation capacity is actively being expanded by existing medical cannabis operators, including Garden State Dispensary, Massachusetts-based MSO Curaleaf and New York-based multistate state operator Acreage Holdings. 

Legalization of recreational cannabis in New Jersey could influence other states 

At the current time, just a dozen medical cannabis dispensaries have opened their doors across New Jersey, with more anticipated to open their doors over the next few months. Regulators plan on distributing 24 new medical cannabis business licenses, but the process has been postponed due to litigation.

President of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, Scott Rudder, says that adult-use legalization of the plant statewide “will be the final hurdle for New York, Pennsylvania and surrounding states.” His opinion has been shared by many, including cannabis attorney Bridget Hill-Zayat, who feels that legalization could change buying behaviors in surrounding states.

“A lot of medical [cannabis] customers will go over to New Jersey, and that’s a significant amount of revenue Pennsylvania is going to lose,” Hill-Zayat predicts.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf sees the potential that a legal market could bring amid the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on tax revenues. Over the last few weeks, he has been fighting to legalize recreational cannabis; despite receiving opposition from leading Republican lawmakers.

New Jersey’s recreational cannabis initiative would impose 6.625 percent sales tax on products. Moreover, municipalities may have the option to pass ordinances for local tax charges of up to two percent. A recreational cannabis industry has already been established in Massachusetts and an adult-use market in Maine is set to kick off on October 9.