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Prepare for the Northeast to become the “country” of cannabis

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“New York is going to be Amsterdam on steroids,” said Jane Sullivan, a long-time cannabis investor in New York, citing the tens of millions of tourists who flock to the city each year.

Despite the liberal leanings of the East Coast states, the region has lagged behind on cannabis because many do not allow citizens to put initiatives on the ballot. Most states that have liberalized their cannabis laws have done so through voter-led efforts.

But last year, New York and Connecticut passed legislation to legalize it, while New Jersey lawmakers approved a legal framework for cannabis, implementing a 2020 ballot measure that allows adult use.

Although the federal government continues to classify marijuana as an illegal drug with no medical uses, 18 states nationwide have adopted recreational legalization, representing nearly half of the country’s population. Another 19 have enacted comprehensive medical programs.

Even deeply conservative states like South Dakota and Mississippi have passed referendums to legislate in recent years, moving the state’s turn without Washington’s help. The booming industry took in $25 billion last year, and sales are set to exceed $40 billion by 2025.

Now, cannabis companies across the country see the potential multi-billion dollar market of the Tri-State as a new engine of growth. Earlier this month, multi-state operator Verano Holdings New York licensed by acquiring Goodness Growth for $413 million. And two of the multinational operators – Ascend Wellness and MedMen – are Controversial legal battle A deal for a New York license.

“I’ve never seen so many new people who haven’t invested in cannabis before [before] that is now looking” to enter the sector, Sullivan said, Noting that New York City is the center of the finance, fashion and advertising sectors. “all of these [industries] They are already thinking of great ways to play.”

State park gets the jump

Before one store opens for recreational use in Manhattan, Northeast customers will likely flock to the Garden State’s weed stores. New Jersey is preparing to launch cannabis sales to anyone at least 21 years old before its neighboring states.

Although the country blew up a February 22 deadline to launch its adult market, Gov. Phil Murphy He recently said dispensaries could start selling to recreational customers “within weeks.”

This almost certainly means New Jersey will jump in capturing market share — and initial tax revenue from recreational sales. Residents of upstate New York, for example, have long crossed the border into Massachusetts to purchase cannabis. Soon the townspeople were able to flock across the Hudson River to shop at the dispensaries.

The Executive Director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission Jeff Brown described the cannabis market as operating on two “tracks” – existing medical operators looking to recreational sales, and new recreational companies entering the industry. Retail orders for the new dispensaries are scheduled to open in mid-March.

There is still a major concern weighing on regulators: Will there be enough product and accessibility To continue serving medical customers who depend on cannabis For treatment?

“There are some [medical dispensaries] Brown said. “We hear it at every meeting of our committee. In general, there is at least one patient talking about having to wait in queues in dispensaries for treatment. Protecting patients is critical in launching this market.”

Clinics insist they can supply client bases and was adamant About starting recreational sales ASAP. Applications for new dispensaries are expected to begin in mid-March.

Another major focus of state regulators as the industry opens up: ensuring that people who have been disproportionately targeted by criminal law enforcement in the past are able to take advantage of the nascent industry.

Despite these lingering concerns, New Jersey is way ahead of New York. Almost a year later Albany lawmakers have legalized adult cannabis useNew York is still months away from the launch of what is likely It has become the second largest recreational marijuana market in the country, after only California.

The executive director of the New York Office of Cannabis Management, Chris Alexander, said the state could begin licensing activities by the end of the year, several months after the original expected start date.

Cannabis leaders in New York say they are not worried about the competition that New Jersey and Connecticut are offering. Instead, they focus on achieving the law’s social justice goals, which have been a major focus of lawmakers in drafting the law.

“I don’t care about anyone. We have a lot of work to do here,” Alexander said. I don’t feel any pressure from other countries that are moving. I think it’s great that these markets are taking off, but we just have to focus on what we have to do here.”

License fee of $3 million

Connecticut regulators also say they are focusing on the importance of achieving social justice goals, rather than launching the market as soon as possible.

The state’s Department of Consumer Protection opened applications for two types of licenses this month and will issue them through a lottery. State officials say that the launch of the adult use market By the end of 2022 it is a realistic possibility.

“I don’t compete with other states,” said Michael Segal, DCP commissioner in Connecticut. “We want to do it right. We want to make sure that the goals of social justice that are really embedded throughout the legislation … have a chance to play out the way the law intends.”

Aspiring cannabis growers in Connecticut dream of the day they will be able to sell their crops to dispensaries in New York City. Luis Vega, founder of Connecticut hemp farm Who is preparing to apply for a cultivation license for adult use.

Vega and Jason Ortiz, both longtime cannabis advocates in the state, plan to apply for it. A kind of social justice cultivation license It comes at a whopping $3 million. Even as they advanced, they both criticized such a high-cost barrier to licensing directed toward underserved communities.

But Andrea Comer, DPC Deputy Commissioner and Chair of the Social Justice Council said there is a reason: “Some of that money is going to be reinvested in the communities, which I think is very important.”

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