By SOPHIE NIETO-MUNOZ
New Jersey Monitor

People had plenty to worry about as New Jersey fumbled the rollout of recreational weed sales Thursday morning. Between delays to the market launch and worries about low supply, some were worried about how Day 1 would play out.

But the launch of recreational marijuana sales has been relatively painless, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission said in a statement. Concerns about low supply and harm to medical patients had delayed its launch, but those fears never materialized.

“While lines were long at some locations, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission had to investigate only a few minor complaints. No significant patient access issues or supply shortages were reported,” the agency said in a statement.

While 13 dispensaries were initially allowed to sell cannabis for adult use as long as they met all the requirements set by the CRC, only 12 opened on Thursday – CuraLeaf in Edgewater Park remains limited to medical patients, for reasons the State not specified.

It’s also unclear when sales will begin in Montclair, which passed an ordinance last summer to allow several types of marijuana businesses in town. Representatives of Ascend — the Bloomfield Avenue medical dispensary that opened in 2012 under former owners, as Greenleaf Compassion Center — told Montclair Local they have not yet been in able to apply for a local license as the township had not yet completed creating its application process. They’re hoping Montclair City Council will allow Ascend to sell recreational marijuana by passing a resolution — like Rochelle Park’s governing bodies did for the location of the dispensary there — bypassing the need to a local application. Acting Township Attorney Paul Burr recently said the request is being considered.

Lines around the block to dispensaries (but not Montclair)

Business groups cheered on the historic first day of adult-use recreational cannabis sales. The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association expects sales to boost the economy by $2 billion within a few years.

“What a momentous day for our state. Today would not have been possible without the hard work of so many people,” said Edmund DeVeaux, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association.

New Jersey has become the 15th state in the nation where residents and visitors 21 and older can purchase marijuana. Voters approved it in November 2020.

DeVeaux also praised Gov. Phil Murphy and State Senate Speaker Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) for their longstanding dedication to legalization. Murphy first promised to legalize recreational pot during his campaign in 2017, while Scutari said his cannabis advocacy started in 2004.

The two politicians, along with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, visited Zen Leaf in Elizabeth on Thursday morning.

Jamie Pomeroy, director of customer service for Zen Leaf owner Verano, said day one “went surprisingly well. Very busy.” The dispensary is learning from the deployment, he said, and it will take some time for the hype to die down – which could mean long queues for the foreseeable future.

Crowds flocked to dispensaries as early as 6 a.m. Thursday and lines snaked through stores for hours. Throughout the afternoon, people waited for hours to shop at the limited number of dispensaries.

But on Friday morning, Zen Leaf employees began taking orders from people on iPads before they entered the store to speed up their experience, Pomeroy said. He does not foresee any supply problems before the weekend.

Media users worry about supply

People can buy up to one ounce of dried flowers, 5 grams of concentrates or oils, or up to 1000 mg of edibles. Most dispensaries limit the amount customers can purchase, in part to ensure there are enough products for medicinal and recreational users.

Pomeroy said the New Jersey launch met his expectations and compared it to how Arizona turns its medical cannabis facilities into hobby shops. He predicts that the market will naturally smooth out.

Jeff Brown, Executive Director of the CRC, offered some advice to cannabis users new and old: store cannabis products out of the reach of children, don’t drive while intoxicated, don’t cross international borders. condition and do not purchase or carry more than one ounce.

“We encourage everyone to be safe by buying only from licensed dispensaries and starting low and slow – especially those new to cannabis or who haven’t used cannabis in a long time,” Brown said.

This story is provided by New Jersey Monitor. It originally appeared here. Additions have been made by Montclair Local, based on reports by Jaimie Julia Winters, to note the status of the Montclair-based Ascend Medical Dispensary.