A year ago, ZenLeaf in Elizabeth was one of 13 dispensaries that officially opened for recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey. Since then, sales have been nonstop, according to general manager Sonny Achrekar. “We’re always get new people in and now that the weather is getting better, we’re going to get all the people flying in because we get all the airport traffic. So it’s just consistent,” he said.
New Jersey’s adult-use cannabis market is still getting going, but that didn’t stop a handful of licensed retailers grandfathered in from the medical program from recording more than a half billion dollars in cannabis sales for 2022.
With nearly $329 million in adult-use sales since the state's launch last April, and more than $226 million in medical sales, New Jersey’s licensed retail market cashed in $555 million altogether in 2022, according to recently released figures from the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC).
At 9 a.m. on Friday, the doors finally opened for legal weed sales at Zen Leaf Neptune, the 18th medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey to begin recreational marijuana sales and just the second retail pot shop in Monmouth County.
“It took a little longer than we anticipated but, if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right — the first time,” Neptune Mayor Nick Williams said. ”This highway (Route 66) leads to four major highways. This location will bring people in here to get the product, get out of here and back on the road.”
Zen Leaf, which operates cannabis dispensaries in Elizabeth and Lawrence, can now begin recreational sales at its third location in Neptune, after the Cannabis Regulatory Commission approved the location to expand into the adult-use market. James Leventis, executive vice president of Verano, which operates Zen Leaf, said the company is committed to ensuring medical patients remain a priority.
Verano Zen Leaf Neptune Township on Route 66 opens Friday and will become New Jersey’s 18th store offering adult legal marijuana.
Verano Zen Leaf Neptune Township will become New Jersey’s 18th store offering adult legal weed on Friday, when it opens with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m. and recreational sales to commence at 9 a.m., according to township officials who received an email from the company announcing the launch.
“They’re going to cut the ribbon and they’re going to open,” Bernie Haney, Director of Land Use Development, for Neptune Township told N.J. Advance Media Monday afternoon.
The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved recreational marijuana sales at the Zen Leaf medical marijuana dispensary in Neptune, the 18th retail cannabis location statewide approved for legal weed sales and just the second in Monmouth County.
Approval by the commission came just two days after the Neptune Township Committee granted local approval to the expansion sought by Verano Holdings, Zen Leaf's parent company.
Legal marijuana for recreational use has been on the market for just over a week in New Jersey, and the sales keep on growing. Some 12,000 people bought on opening day, spending $2 million. We visited two dispensaries, Zen Leaf in Elizabeth and Ascend in Rochelle Park, to see how they’re faring.
According to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), those 13 locations are:
- Apothecarium, 1865 Springfield, Avenue, Maplewood
- Apothecarium, 55 South Main Street, Phillipsburg
- Ascend Wellness, 174 Route 17 North, Rochelle Park
- RISE, 26-48 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield
- RISE, 196 3rd Avenue, #3C, Paterson
Dispensaries — not dealers
Gummies, oils, tinctures and dried flower (or bud, as pot users say) awaited customers beyond a set of frosted doors with a black metal frame. People began lining up outside Zen Leaf’s dispensary as early as 6 a.m., three hours before the store officially opened. As the line spilled over in front of a neighboring supermarket, customers seemed incredulous that they could buy weed at an official store, and not just from some guy down the street.
“How legal is this?” asked one person on the line. “Let’s test some waters.”