New Jersey’s recreational marijuana industry is booming. Here’s what you need to know

Recreational cannabis is now widely available in New Jersey, and sales are booming. Here’s what you should know, from who is eligible to buy to how much cannabis is taxed.

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Marijuana buds are seen in a prescription bottle as they are sorted at Compassionate Care Foundation's grow house

Marijuana buds are seen in a prescription bottle as they are sorted at Compassionate Care Foundation's grow house, Friday, March 22, 2019, in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Three years ago, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law making marijuana sales legal in the Garden State. The cannabis industry has since taken off, with total sales reaching almost $1 billion last year.

Who can buy weed in New Jersey?

If you are 21 and older with a state-issued photo ID, you are allowed to buy up to 1 ounce of cannabis.

Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said that dispensary consumers are typically directed toward a kiosk or a sales desk.

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“So if you’re there because you want to recreate, or you’re there because you have anxiety or you’re there because you just want a good night’s sleep, sharing this conversation with the sales associate, with the bud-tender can help direct that person to find a product that’s best for you,” he said.

How much does marijuana cost in New Jersey?

The cost of cannabis products can range from $20 to $70. Many stores offer specials and discounts.

“I think when customers go into dispensaries, they are generally pleased with regard to the price ranges that are available,” Rudder said. “It’s not just a standard, across-the-board, it’s more along the lines of I have options here now.”

Is there a dispensary near me?

New Jersey now has more than 100 cannabis dispensaries spread across the state.

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How much is marijuana taxed in New Jersey?

In addition to the standard 6.625% sales tax, a local municipality tax and cultivation and manufacturing taxes are levied on the products. The total tax ranges from 10% to 12%, which Rudder says is one of the lowest rates in the nation.

Can you not get hired or get fired for smoking marijuana in New Jersey?

Cannabis, unlike alcohol and most other drugs, can be detected in blood, urine and saliva tests, sometimes days and weeks after it is ingested, depending on the amount consumed, body metabolism and the level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Rudder pointed out “the industry has been very supportive of trying to figure out techniques to make sure tests are more accurate.”

He said that, because cannabis is now widely accepted as medication for pain, anxiety and insomnia management, “a lot of employers, if they do have a drug [testing] policy program, they’re not including cannabis in that program anymore.”

Rudder noted some companies follow stricter federal drug policies and mandates, which are more conservative because marijuana consumption is illegal according to federal law.

Companies have the right to create their own drug-use policy and, most, he said “recognize what cannabis is.” “If [workers] are showing up sober at work and test positive for something that may have happened a couple of weeks ago, that becomes a complicating factor,” Redder added. “So a lot of them are just not testing for cannabis whatsoever.”

Can you grow marijuana plants at home in New Jersey?

New Jersey residents cannot grow marijuana plants at home, but the concept is under consideration in Trenton. Legislation could soon be introduced to allow Garden State residents to grow their own weed crop. Rudder said patients using cannabis to treat medical issues “should have the opportunity to grow their own medicine.”

Cannabis has been utilized around the world for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, he said.

“That is something that is going to happen, it needs to happen,” he said. “It must happen, it should happen.”

Can you travel with marijuana across state lines?

You are not allowed to carry cannabis from one state where it’s legal to another state where it is not, Rudder said.

So, if you’re a Pennsylvania resident 21 or older and you travel to Jersey to buy marijuana at a dispensary, you are not permitted by law to bring it back to Pennsylvania. But there is a loophole.

“There is no enforcement mechanism for that, so you’re not going to have DEA agents on the other side of the Walt Whitman Bridge ready to pounce on somebody that may have bought a few joints at a dispensary,” Rudder said.

He also pointed out carrying cannabis on a plane leaving New Jersey is technically not legal.

“It really comes down to the federal enforcement of that,” Rudder said. “The TSA, they don’t really care if you have cannabis in your luggage, what they are looking for is things that could bring down an airplane.”

Your guide to recreational marijuana in New Jersey

  • Cannabis consumers must have a government-issued ID
  • Folks can buy recreational marijuana in New Jersey, but they can’t grow it at home (at least, not yet)
  • No, you can’t bring New Jersey weed across state lines to Pa.

How does weed affect consumers?

Rudder said many people know that 12 ounces of wine will have a different effect than 12 ounces of beer, so in the cannabis world “different strains, different types of product are out there that have a different type of impact and the more educated you are, the more you are going to fine-tune, like this is what I want today.”

He said unlike the marijuana products used back in the day, people can now learn what will help them sleep or enhance their creative thought process as they get more experienced with different products.

Is cannabis safe?

Rudder said now that cannabis is legal and regulated in the Garden State, customers can find out exactly what they are buying.“You know on the label what it is, what the different ratios of things are, CBD, THC,” he said.

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that makes you feel “high,” while CBD, also from the cannabis plant, can lessen pain and soreness while helping certain conditions like epilepsy.

Rudder stressed that consumers should also buy from a licensed dispensary.

“There are no surprises in there, there’s no metals in there, there’s no somebody throwing in extra stuff like fentanyl and the other horror stories you hear on the illicit market,” he said.

Is weed healthier than alcohol and prescription painkillers?

It’s easier to trace the source of the cannabis you buy at a dispensary. Hing pointed out that once a marijuana plant begins to grow it is closely monitored.

“It’s given a production tag number and you can follow that from seed to the store,” she said. “That number stays with that plant the entire time through production, packaging, to the store and out the door.”

Rudder said that, compared to alcohol and opioids, many people find cannabis to be a healthier alternative to unwind and relax or to treat painful conditions. “There are no hangovers, it can be an important part of your medical process,” he said.

Hing said for pain relief, in addition to gummies, “there’s lotions that will not get you high, you literally will just put it on if you have a bad knee or muscle pain.

What are the different kinds of marijuana products?

Mary Hing, the general manager at the Township Green dispensary in Riverside,  said customers who aren’t fans of smoking can consume cannabis in a different way.

“Right now out on the market we have gummies, there’s chocolate, they just came out with brownies, there’s all those types of edibles, there’s also tablets that you can just swallow,” she said.

In addition to edibles, there are vaporizers, containers of marijuana flowers and buds, and pre-rolled joints..”

What is marijuana like now, compared to then?

Hing said the marijuana sold by dealers in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s was weaker in strength than what can be purchased at stores now.

“Back then you were smoking stems and seeds and you didn’t even know,” she said. “But it’s so sophisticated, with blending of different strains that can definitely be stronger now, you can narrow down how you want to feel.”

What does New Jersey’s cannabis future look like?

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration recently agreed to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule III substance. Rudder said this acknowledgment that cannabis is not the same kind of drug as heroin or cocaine will help to further research on its potential benefits.

He noted the reclassification will also mean expanded tax breaks for the cannabis industry.

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