NJ to Begin Recreational Marijuana Sales April 21 | Economic news

By MIKE CATALINI, Associated Press

TRENTON, NJ (AP) — Recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey for ages 21 and older will begin April 21, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.

Murphy’s Twitter announcement comes just three days after state regulators gave seven facilities that already sell medical cannabis the go-ahead to begin selling recreational marijuana.

“This is a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry,” Murphy said.

The news comes about a year after the state regulatory commission began operations and a year and a half after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question allowing recreational marijuana for people of 21 and over.

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New Jersey is one of 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have legalized recreational marijuana. There are also 37 states, including New Jersey, that have legalized medical marijuana.

Three of the seven facilities, known as alternative treatment centers, are in the northern part of the state. Three are in southern and one in central New Jersey.

To gain approval, the centers agreed that the coming influx of recreational buyers will not interrupt access for patients. Facilities said they would reserve parking spaces for patients and keep hours specifically set aside for patients.

There are about 130,000 medical marijuana patients in the state, with about 800,000 potential recreational users and less than 800,000 “tourist” users, according to the commission.

How much the state will receive in tax revenue from recreational marijuana is unclear. Murphy’s fiscal year 2023 budget, which is pending before the Democratic-led Legislature, estimates revenue at just $19 million out of a nearly $49 billion budget. In 2019, when the legalization of recreational marijuana was still pending before voters, he estimated around $60 million in revenue.

Legislation governing the recreational market provides for the application of the 6.625% sales tax, with 70% of revenue going to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests. Black residents were more likely — up to three times more likely — to face marijuana charges than white residents. Municipalities can also levy a tax of up to 2%.

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