More than 12,000 customers turned out last Thursday when New Jersey kicked off recreational cannabis sales for the first time, the state reported this week.
The figures come via the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which said that 12,438 customers turned out for the grand opening, generating a total of nearly $1.9 million in adult-use cannabis sales.
“We expected sales to be substantial and the data shows that the market is effectively serving both adult-use consumers and patients,” Jeff Brown, executive director of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said in a statement. “We continue to monitor inventory and access for patients and are prepared to take enforcement action against any [medical cannabis dispensary] that does not meet the requirements for patient access and supply.”
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission said that although “lines have been steady at all the dispensaries, there has not been any substantiated reports of supply problems for medicinal cannabis patients,” and that it “continues to monitor and respond to complaints to ensure patients have adequate supply and access.”
In addition, the commission, which “establishes and enforces the rules and regulations governing the licensing, cultivation, testing, selling, and purchasing of cannabis in the state,” said that sales of “medicinal cannabis products have also been strong over the last 30 days with approximately 64,000 ounces of products dispensed to patients and their caregivers.”
Only a dozen dispensaries were cleared to begin sales at the opening—which fell the day after 420—after the state repeatedly missed deadlines and pushed back the launch.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission earlier this month signed off on the dispensaries that would be eligible to sell recreational cannabis on opening day. All of those first adult-use dispensaries were existing medical cannabis businesses.
The New York Times reported then that “each of the cannabis companies had demonstrated that they had enough supply for both medical and recreational customers,” and that if “they fall short of that requirement, they risk daily fines of up to $10,000.”
Moreover, The Times reported that the approved cannabis businesses “also had to show that they had a strategy for ensuring that patients are not edged out by the expected flood of new customers during the early days of legal sales in the densely populated region.”
According to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, there have been no supply shortages after the first week of adult-use sales.
The commission said last week on the first day of sales that while “lines were long in some locations,” it only had to “investigate only a few minor complaints,” and that no “significant patient access issues or supply shortages have been reported.”
“We encourage everyone to be safe by buying only from licensed dispensaries and by starting low and going slow—especially those who are new to cannabis or who haven’t consumed cannabis in a long time,” Brown said in a statement at the time. “Also, remember that the laws against impaired driving apply to being high. Our guests from neighboring states should remember it is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines.”
It has not been all smooth sailing for New Jersey’s new cannabis program, however. Sales were initially supposed to launch in February, but that deadline came and went.
At that time, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said that he believed sales were close.
“If I had to predict, we are within weeks—I would hope in March—you would see implicit movement on the medical dispensaries, some of them being able to sell recreational,” Murphy said. “They’ve got to prove they’ve got the supply for their medical customers. I hope shortly thereafter, the standalone recreational marijuana operators.”
But after March passed with no launch, Nick Scutari, the president of the New Jersey State Senate, said he wanted some answers.
Calling the delays “totally unacceptable,” Scutari said he intends to spearhead a special committee to investigate the state’s troubled cannabis launch.