About two-thirds of New Jersey cities have chosen not to allow licensed marijuana traffickers.
Until last Saturday, the municipalities had to decide whether to allow or block retail operations. The municipalities that have opted out can change their position at any time.
The first city-wide moratoria apply to the approval of brick-and-mortar retailers. New regulations just enacted by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission prohibit municipalities from imposing bans on marijuana delivery services.
Regarding the decisions of the cities, Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML said: “These moratoriums only serve to protect and extend the illegal cannabis market. We have seen time and time again that consumers prefer to purchase cannabis products from safe, licensed, above-ground retailers. But without access to such facilities, the illegal market will continue to fill this void. “
He added: “Despite a mandate from their constituents, the majority of whom voted overwhelmingly in November to legalize the sale of adult marijuana in New Jersey, many local officials are reluctant to license these operations in their communities. The irony is that marijuana sales are already happening in these communities. But they do not take place in licensed, regulated facilities, but on street corners without supervision and without any money from these sales flowing back into the community. “
Studies have repeatedly disproved claims that marijuana retail businesses are linked to either increased crime rates or an increase in marijuana use or access by adolescents. Some analysis concludes that retailers have been linked to rising home values and other positive economic indicators.
The regulations do not impose a statewide limit on the number of licensed retailers that can be allowed in New Jersey. Existing medical cannabis companies can apply for approval for sale in the adult market.
Retail sales are slated to begin within six months.
Further information can be found in the NORML factsheet “Social impacts of cannabis pharmacies / retailers”.