By MIKE CATALINI – Associated Press
TRENTON, NJ (AP) — Recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey for persons age 21 and older will begin April 21, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.
Murphy’s announcement on Twitter comes just three days after state regulators gave seven facilities already selling medical cannabis the green light to sell recreational marijuana.
“This is a historic step in our work to create a new cannabis industry,” said Murphy.
The news comes about a year after the state regulatory commission began work, and a year and a half after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot to legalize recreational marijuana for people ages 21 and older.
New Jersey is one of 18 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have legalized recreational marijuana. There are also 37 states, including New Jersey, that have legalized medical marijuana.
Three of the seven facilities known as alternative treatment centers are located in the northern part of the state. Three are in southern and one in central New Jersey.
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To gain approval, the centers agreed that the coming influx of recreational shoppers will not disrupt access for patients. The facilities said they would reserve parking for patients and keep hours specifically for patients only.
According to the commission, there are about 130,000 medical marijuana patients in the state, with an estimated about 800,000 potential recreational users and fewer than 800,000 estimated “tourism” users.
How much money the state will receive in tax revenue from recreational marijuana isn’t clear. Murphy’s fiscal 2023 budget, which is pending before the Democrat-led Legislature, estimates revenue at just $19 million on a budget of nearly $49 billion. In 2019, before voters were yet to legalize recreational marijuana, he had estimated revenue of about $60 million.
The recreational market legislation provides for the application of a 6.625% sales tax, with 70% of proceeds going to areas disproportionately impacted by marijuana-related arrests. Black residents were more likely – up to three times as likely – to face marijuana charges than white residents. Cities can also impose a tax of up to 2%.
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