The outdoor atmosphere was festive at a RISE Medical and Recreational Marijuana Dispensary in Paterson as some 35 adults, listening to the reggae music of a live steel drum player, were standing in line waiting to legally purchase recreational cannabis for the first time in New Jersey.
“I’ve been waiting for this day since the 11th grade when I wrote an essay on why marijuana should be legal,” said a 47-year-old woman who did not wish to be identified. In her younger days, her argument was, “If alcohol is legal, why can’t pot be?”
She said the price for legal cannabis in New Jersey is expensive, explaining it is much cheaper in California and Oregon. She added that when recreational cannabis will be legally sold in New York State by the end of the year, it will also be cheaper than in New Jersey, causing state residents to cross the border to make purchases.
Asked what she was purchasing today, she said it was an ounce of marijuana that she could smoke in a pipe, since she aways had trouble rolling a joint.
For Brandon, a young male in his 20s who had just spent $60 on a cartridge of cannabis oil – about 3.5 grams – for vaping purposes, the process of purchasing the cannabis product was “quick and easy” as he used a touch screen pad to place his order. He said the price was high for what he purchased, but explained that the trade-off is having peace of mind; knowing that he was buying a clean product that would not be laced with dangerous chemicals, which is a risk when purchasing cannabis illegally.
RISE has been selling medical marijuana at the Paterson location since 2019, and is excited about the legalization of recreational-use marijuana, but is making sure that the medical cannabis supply is always a priority. RISE has a total of three dispensaries in New Jersey located in Paterson, Bloomfield and Paramus. Nationwide, the company is operating dispensaries in 13 states.
RISE joins seven other medical cannabis dispensaries in the Garden State who have begun selling recreational cannabis products today.
Recently, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approved these seven alternative treatment centers to sell to the adult-use market. In total, these seven centers operate 13 facilities in 11 counties. Additional applicants are under review by the CRC as the state works to grow the industry.
A press release issued by the Murphy administration today explained that these approved alternative treatment centers are required to meet critical social equity standards, including providing technical information to new cannabis businesses owned by individuals who have lived in economically disadvantaged areas or have had cannabis-related convictions in the past. The centers will continuously be assessed on hiring and management diversity, support for community programs, and the percentage of minority-owned vendors or suppliers with which they contract. Seventy percent of the sales tax collected on adult use cannabis sales will also go toward communities affected by marijuana-related arrests to further these social justice and equity goals.
Gov. Phil Murphy commented, “The first sale of legal, adult-use cannabis today marks a historic moment for New Jersey, as we leave behind the indefensible practices that led to the incarceration of countless people of color and embrace the opportunities of a fair, regulated adult-use market. It is a moment that required long hours of work to make sure we got it right the first time, and I am proud of our efforts to get to this point. With today’s launch, my administration will continue working to grow a cannabis industry that reflects the diversity of our state, protects access for medical marijuana patients, prioritizes justice, and promotes equal opportunities for communities of color.”
As purchasers were leaving RISE with their cannabis products in hand, they were offered a variety of free sugar-coated doughnuts, some imprinted with glazed marijuana leaf images. It was up to the customers if they wanted to eat the doughnuts then or wait until they went home and got “the munchies.”
As one woman grabbed for a doughnut, she was overheard saying: “What a day to be alive!”
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