The voters have spoken and in January citizens in New Jersey will be able to obtain legal recreational marijuana. They will also be able to cultivate it, and some believe that an interpretation of the existing law may allow for so-called “cannabis cafes,” where patrons can consume cannabis products on premises.
The Current Status of the New Jersey Cannabis Bill
The specifics of the legal market for cannabis in New Jersey are still being ironed out and will probably be worked on until the eleventh hour. At the moment, legislators have agreed to limit licensing to 37 marijuana growers during the first two years of legal sales. So called “micro licenses” that apply to businesses with 10 or fewer employees are unlimited.
70% of the sales tax revenue will support restorative programs for legal aid, health care, mentoring and more in minority communities disproportionately affected by the drug war.
Entrepreneurs eyeing the market are in real need of individuals who have experience in cannabis or other heavily regulated industries like tobacco or alcohol.
The Potential in the Cannabis Market in New Jersey
There are a few factors that are sure to make New Jersey a promising land of opportunity for the entrepreneurial cannabis professional. First is the state’s relative density, along with its close proximity to large cities where affluent customers are primed to explore cannabis products in multiple categories. There are also several market categories for entrepreneurs to explore, include such recent pandemic-forced industry innovations such as e-commerce, delivery and curbside pickup.
Key Skill Sets for New Jersey Cannabis
The most pressing need for businesses looking to establish cannabis retail in New Jersey is of course guidance on successfully navigating what can be quite a labyrinthine regulatory landscape. At this point, burgeoning cannabis concerns can rely on a growing cadre of executive talent from the industry, but when we are tasked with recruiting for such hires, we often also look to other heavily regulated industries such as tobacco and food and beverage to round out a group of qualified candidates.
In more developed markets for legal cannabis (such as in California), retail operations flourish in differing markets and market niches. Some retail establishments function like convenience stores, while others work to establish a decidedly more refined and high-end Apple store-like experience. Depending on the regulatory landscape, New Jersey cannabis businesses may also want to expand into delivery and pandemic-friendly curbside pickup options.
Cannabis and Neighboring States
An open question for the Northeast’s burgeoning legal industry is the role of neighboring states such as New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. New York City will be a quick trip over one of numerous bridges, promising to put cities like Hoboken on a bud-loving New Yorker’s must-visit list.
Philadelphians, too, will only need to drive an hour to get their cannabis shopping done, and with that influx, cannabis purveyors will likely expect their out-of-state guests to stock up for a month or more, and perhaps spend some money in the surrounding areas.
Of course, this economic influx will soon make some of these neighboring states fast-track their own marijuana bills.