Applications to get into the promising new industry have been piling up since the state legalized marijuana for adults in 2021 and started taking applications later that year. Stores for recreational use have been slow to open, and the number of cannabis sellers in this region can be counted on two hands. Statewide, only 37 recreational cannabis dispensaries are operating, with another 13 selling medical marijuana only.
Users who saw other states more quickly create large and robust cannabis markets have been disappointed. Many also have complained that prices in New Jersey are high.
The state Cannabis Regulatory Commission has received 2,177 applications for marijuana business licenses and has approved 1,399 applications. Most of those — 1,200 statewide — are conditional licenses that allow a startup to build out operations while working toward meeting the requirements for a regular cannabis license. About 100 of the regular annual licenses have been awarded, with 37 of them converted from conditional licenses. Another 400 applications are being processed.
Before aspiring cannabis business owners can apply for state licensing, they must have municipal approval and a planned business location. Towns and cities have been flooded with requests, but some municipalities have become reluctant to allow more applications until they see how many already forwarded to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission are cleared and become operating businesses.