Maybe. But, consider this: If recreational shops were to open this month, or if medical shops were approved to sell recreational cannabis—as Gov. Phil Murphy suggested in a recent interview with WBGO—it actually wouldn’t be that much longer of a process than in other states. In Colorado, which was the first of two states to allow recreational cannabis sales (with Washington), 14 months passed before the first 37 stores opened their doors. Washington took 20 months. Meanwhile, New York—where voters passed a legal cannabis bill in the same election as New Jersey—has set an 18-month timeframe to get the industry up and running.
It’s all but certain that medical cannabis facilities, which have been allowed in the state for a decade, will be allowed to transition first before recreational-only facilities open. Recreational-only facilities are likely months away.
The delay is caused by multiple factors. First, the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) only set industry operating guidelines in August, when municipalities had to decide whether or not to allow businesses that directly sell or wholesale, grow or manufacture cannabis. About four out of five municipalities in the state opted out, citing the unclear parameters of the industry, knowing they’d be allowed to opt back in at any time in the future. Now that applicants for cultivation permits have submitted their information, many are hearing that they need documented approval from their municipality that they’ll be able to operate.