The race to dominate recreational pot sales leaves NJ’s medical marijuana users in the dust.
Complaining about NJ’s medical marijuana prices is something I’ve done here on these pages (and elsewhere) dating back to my first legal cannabis purchase (in NJ) back in Dec 2012. But despite my love of a good kvetch, complaining about NJ’s medical cannabis cartel is a drag.
Frankly, I’d rather have affordable medicine.
You might get lucky and find a decent strain on sale at a NJ dispensary, but mostly you’ll shell out $450+ for an ounce of mediocre weed.
I’ll shut up about it when it’s easy to find cannabis for $200/oz. And when NJ stops jailing sick people for growing their own medicine, I’ll stop kvetching once and for all.
But until then, let’s highlight the cannabis industry’s selfishness and their contradictions.
When NJ PBS reached out to NJ’s largest dispensary about their high medical cannabis prices, CuraleafNJ provided this statement:
“Our pricing in NJ, which has some of the highest real estate taxes and operational costs in the country, is Submitted to state regulators, and complies with all state and local regulations. New Jersey pricing is aligned with the local market and is similarly priced to neighboring regulated medical markets in CT, NY and MA”
It’s cute how Curaleaf cites high property taxes like we haven’t been paying them then since long before they arrived. The real reason NJ dispensaries charge so much for mediocre weed is because they can. And they’ll keep lobbying to preserve the cartel-like stranglehold that ensures a $450/oz status quo.
I mean, why wouldn’t they?
“We may have to start destroying product”
NJ’s pot dispensaries never cared about sick people who use medical marijuana, they simply used us to be first in line for recreational sales. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. In the meantime, NJ’s cannabis industry is at great pains to let you know they’re ready to dominate the recreational marketplace.
The NJ Cannabis Trade Association had this to say:
“It cannot be emphasized enough that New Jersey’s ATCs (dispensaries) have ample supply now to service adult-use consumers without harming access for medical cannabis patients, who always come first.”
First of all, don’t buy the whole ”patents come first” thing, a debate for another time. Secondly, “it can’t be emphasized enough” sounds awfully needy don’t you think?
James Leventis is an executive for Verano New Jersey.
Verano, who run two medical marijuana dispensaries in NJ, have aggressively pushed to be first in line for recreational sales. Their Elizabeth location, where medical cannabis goes for $472/oz, devoted half its retail space to recreational sales that haven’t started yet.
“I hate to say this,” Mr. Leventis recently warned,”but we may have to start destroying product (destined for the recreational market) and we may have to start potentially letting people go because part of the anticipation is you ramp up your staffing, as well” if regulators don’t green light recreational sales soon.
Verano is so committed to higher prices, they’re willing to blowtorch a warehouse full of weed to prove it.
If Verano NJ flooded the medical marketplace with all that extra weed (instead of destroying it) that might actually bring NJ’s medical cannabis prices down out of the rafters. But that probably never cross their mind.
Because that’s not how cartels think.
3-5 years in jail
In 2020, NJ voters legalized recreational cannabis by a 2-to-1 margin.
I wonder how many of those 2,737,682 “YES” voters realize that home cultivation of cannabis remains extremely illegal here in the Garden State, including for medicinal purposes. Anyone growing weed faces 3-5 years in jail for a single pot plant, putting NJ way out of line with most other states where patients can grow their own.
In an effort to preserve their stranglehold on medical marijuana cultivation, NJ dispensaries have deployed the savviest lobbyists to ensure home cultivation remains very much illegal. It’s working. And that’s why home grow legislation’s going nowhere fast in Trenton. Frankly, given his long and cozy relationship with the cannabis industry, it’s doubtful that NJ Senate President Nick Scutari will permit debate on the topic!
Facing long odds in the statehouse, homegrow advocates are urging NJ’s Attorney General to ostensibly decriminalize the home cultivation of cannabis in NJ. It’s past time for NJ’s Office of Attorney General to issue guidance to stop prosecuting people, especially patients, who grow their own medicine.
Jay Lassiter has been HIV+ nearly 30 years and he’s used cannabis the entire time, most of that time as a criminal.