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More Than 70% of New Jersey Jurisdictions Ban Recreational Cannabis Retail

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Aug 24, 2021   
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The list of New Jersey areas that will permit recreational cannabis retail has been unveiled, and it’s quite short.

According to the USA Today Network, around 71 percent of towns across the US state (around 400 municipalities) have completely opted out of the incoming adult-use industry, and so will continue to prohibit any cannabis cultivation, production, distribution, or retail.

Just 98 municipalities, including Jersey City, have approved ordinances that will allow legal marijuana dispensaries and producers within their jurisdictions.

A further 41 towns have continued to ban cannabis retailers but have approved other types of cannabis companies, such as delivery companies and growers.

Ten areas also chose to opt out of the recreational market but embrace medical marijuana businesses.

However, under state law, these cannabis-adverse jurisdictions cannot prohibit their residents from possessing, consuming, or indeed ordering legal, recreational marijuana, as long as the products aren’t consumed on public property.

98 municipalities and counting

While this reticence to welcome the adult-use cannabis sector may dampen the hopes of many New Jersey-based entrepreneurs and consumers, certain industry insiders have highlighted that other states with legal recreational access also started out with a paucity of cannabis-friendly towns, before more areas embraced the economic incentives. In Colorado, for instance, which opened its recreational market in 2014, around 70 percent of municipalities initially opted out of retail, but many more have since welcomed cannabis businesses. 

“They [Colorado jurisdictions] saw that the sky didn’t fall, and that the revenue generated by neighboring towns was really just too lucrative to pass by,” Edmund DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, told the told the USA Today Network.

New Jersey voters approved adult-use legalization during last November’s US election.

Since then, several regulations for the incoming industry have been established. Only adults aged 21 or older, for instance, will be permitted to purchase (and possess) up to one ounce (28 grams) of cannabis from a smoke shop. Home cultivation will also be prohibited, and the business licensing system will prioritize social equity applicants.

While the launch date for the market has yet to be decided, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission had committed to announce the date within the next six months.


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