Jeff Brown, executive director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which oversees licensing, growing, testing and sales of cannabis in New Jersey, cautioned buyers to expect long lines at first, and to “start low and go slow” with their purchases and consumption.
It is illegal under state law to possess more than six ounces at any time, and illegal to drive while high on marijuana. Also, because federal law still bans marijuana possession, buyers in New Jersey cannot legally transport it outside the state.
Some marijuana advocates were eager for sales to begin a day earlier, on April 20, an unofficial cannabis holiday.
But there were concerns among regulators and industry representatives that with only 13 fully approved locations to serve thousands of customers across the entire state, a large turnout might overwhelm those centers, perhaps causing traffic and parking problems as well as unmanageable lines.
“Selecting 4/20 for opening day would have presented unmanageable logistical challenges for patients and other buyers, surrounding communities, and for municipalities,” Toni-Anne Blake, a spokeswoman for the commission, said.
Instead, 4/21 was the culmination of a yearslong effort to legalize marijuana in the state.
In November 2020, state voters approved a referendum legalizing marijuana, and the State Legislature legalized it in 2021. That was followed by months of creating industry regulations and licensing applicants to open dispensaries.