NJ recreational marijuana sales approved, could begin within weeks

New Jersey officials have given approval to seven companies to sell recreational marijuana to adults — meaning sales could start as early as May.

The move comes more than a year after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to legalize adult use of the drug.

Is recreational marijuana legal in NJ?

Early last year, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation to set up a recreational marijuana marketplace.

At the time of the signing, Murphy explained that by establishing a recreational marijuana marketplace, the economy statewide would flourish as new jobs would be created.

Cannabis in New Jersey

On Monday, New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, made up of five members, gave seven medical-marijuana companies final approval to start selling their products to all adults.

One of the companies approved to sell recreational marijuana is Verano. The company's executive vice president tells FOX 5 News that it is ready to sell recreational marijuana at dispensaries in Elizabeth, Lawrence, and Neptune.

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New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act allows for the legal sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for residents 21 years and older.

The development makes New Jersey only the second state on the East Coast to fully authorize cannabis sales to all adults.

The seven companies are permitted to begin selling recreational cannabis for adult use as soon as each company pays more than $1 million in fees associated with the expanded licenses and meets other requirements to obtain the license.

It is estimated that marijuana sales could top $2 billion a year in New Jersey in the coming years.

Where can you buy legal marijuana in NJ?

In August, state regulators approved rules to set up the recreational marijuana marketplace, giving application priority to women-, minority- and disabled veteran-owned businesses and paving the way for sales to begin.

Text of Public Question No. 1 that legalized recreational marijuana

Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called "cannabis"? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State's medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.

What is considered legal pot in New Jersey?

It's no longer a violation of state law to have 6 ounces (170 grams) or less of marijuana or about three-fifths of an ounce (17 grams) of hashish. It's not a crime any longer to be under the influence of marijuana or hashish or to possess marijuana paraphernalia or to be in possession of it while operating a car. The state still has laws against driving under the influence of drugs.

If you have more than 6 ounces, it is still a crime that could carry up to 18 months in jail.

Can you grow your own marijuana in NJ under the new law?

No. Home-grow was sought by advocates, but ultimately was left out of the final legislation.