New York legalized adult-use cannabis in 2021 and the first recreational marijuana dispensary opened its doors in Manhattan late last year. But so far, only four Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) retailers have opened statewide. Meanwhile, the number of unlicensed pot shops has skyrocketed, prompting operators in the nascent licensed cannabis industry and others to press state officials for action against illicit operators.
Traditional Market Cannabis Sales
The new initiative is a response to the growing illicit market for marijuana, even in states like New Jersey where it is legal for recreational purposes.
In addition to encouraging people to purchase from legal dispensaries, the new campaign aims to make people aware of the untested and allegedly unsafe products that may be available on the streets
New Jersey’s governor is teaming up with a coalition of major cannabis brands to launch a campaign meant to educate and encourage consumers about the risks of buying marijuana products outside of regulated markets.
The U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) is leading the “Buy Legal” effort, which was announced on Thursday in New Orleans at the Black CannaBiz Expo.
A New Jersey couple is facing charges of "alleged distribution of unregulated marijuana in Phillipsburg," a city in New Jersey that borders Pennsylvania. On June 30, they were arrested for third-degree distribution of over one ounce of marijuana and third-degree conspiracy to distribute over one ounce of marijuana.
So I recently treated myself to a little NYC cannabis secret shopping-reporting tour to try to figure out what was going on. A tarot card reader sold me a pre-rolled joint off of a table in Washington Square Park, warning me to watch out for other sellers who might not know what they’re talking about. An issue to ponder for another day, on both of my merchant’s entrepreneurial fronts. Later, I bought an edible from a smoke shop even though neither I nor the guy selling it seemed clear on what it was. CBD? Just regular marijuana? The synthetic stuff that might set me up for a very bad time?
California’s cannabis market is booming nearly five years after voters legalized recreational weed. But there’s a catch: the vast majority of pot sales are still underground.
Rather than make cannabis a Main Street fixture, California’s strict regulations have led most industry operators to close shop, flee the state or sell in the state’s illegal market that approaches $8 billion annually, twice the volume of legal sales.
Below are several reasons I don’t shop at dispensaries. And also one very important reason why I do.
I can’t afford NJ dispensary weed. It’s that basic.
An ounce of best-quality medical cannabis at a NJ dispensary will set you back between $400-$500. I wish I could recall the name of the strain that was selling for $530/ounce in Egg Harbor Township. That’s still the highest I’ve seen.
And it’s off-the-charts expensive, prohibitively so for most of us.
As tortured as the path to legalization has been, now the hard part really begins.
Come Jan. 1, the new laws go into effect with a host of unresolved issues. Those issues will be left for a newly formed Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), as well as the state attorney general. At the heart of these future policy decisions is how to create a $1 billion industry that will overtake the current illicit market and create tax revenue that will be used to help the minority communities (impact zones) hardest hit by disparate treatment by law enforcement in the so-called war on drugs.
Passage of Question 1 is necessary to halt the skyrocketing number of marijuana-related arrests that are occurring in the Garden State. Annually, more than 30,000 New Jerseyans are arrested for cannabis-specific violations – one of the highest totals of any state in the nation. These arrests and prosecutions cost taxpayers an estimated $143 million every year.
Despite recreational pot still being illegal here, New Yorkers are helping fuel the trend.
“Business is up a good 50 percent,” said one Manhattan dealer (who asked to remain anonymous). “I work in every borough except Staten Island, and people are very happy that my service is running. Customers are saying ‘Thank you’.”
Vladimir Bautista, the Westchester-based CEO of marijuana lifestyle company HappyMunkey is certainly grateful.