A Joint and New Jersey

ROCHELLE PARK – Daniel Baxter came to get some “tasty tidbits.”

He was disappointed to find that the Ascend Cannabis Dispensaries on Route 17 was by appointment only. On this, the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey, that probably made sense.

Unlike some locales where people began lining up literally in the middle of the night, this was a very organized exercise. Patrons arriving were asked if they wanted to buy pot for medical or recreational reasons and handled accordingly. Those with medical needs were the priority.

It was, as expected, a happy crowd of customers.

“We beat New York and Connecticut,” said one young man about to enter the shop. He seemed unconcerned that it took well more than a year for legal pot sales to begin following a 2020 vote.

A woman leaving the shop, however, was a bit more cynical about the vicissitudes of New Jersey politics.

Notwithstanding the 2020 referendum, she said she was surprised that legal pot sales are actually beginning in the state.

About 67 percent of New Jersey voters backed legalizing recreational marijuana in 2020. That level of support suggests that pot smoking has become mainstream.

Yes, and no.

Old habits, or rather the thinking of yesteryear, still hold sway for some.

Two aging male baby boomers refused to chat with the many reporters on the scene today. One said he worried about what his kids would think, Clearly, a stigma about smoking weed, or being called a pothead, remains.

Of course, these days one does not need to smoke it.

Louis Cohen, a spokesman for the shop, explained the key differences between pot edibles and smoking as customers milled around, looking at edibles, flowers, and all types of pot paraphernalia.

He said edibles take about an hour to “kick in,” but that the high can last four or five hours.

Smoking pot, in contrast, gets you high immediately. but the high doesn’t last nearly as long, Cohen said,

Back outside, Baxter was happy at what he was seeing despite not having an appointment to purchase anything. He said he uses marijuana recreationally, but that he finds it also helps him with “anger management”  by calming him down.

As some customers and the press hung out in the parking lot, the unmistakable odor of pot was in the air.

It emanated from one, Adam Umansky, who was thoroughly enjoying the day. Pot, he said, should have been legal years ago.

“All the dangers of it are exaggerated, or out and out wrong,” he said.

So Umansky was quick to make an appointment today, right?

Not exactly.

As he puffed on a joint, he said he got his weed from a “reputable” dealer in the black market.

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