How to open a cannabis dispensary

How to Open a Cannabis Dispensary in New Jersey

Learn how to open a cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, including laws about medical and adult-use sales, licensing and marketing.

In 2023, more than 50 dispensaries opened in the state of New Jersey. Currently, there are at least 79 dispensaries in New Jersey, with more set to open in the coming years. Once dispensaries in New Jersey acquire the necessary licenses to sell weed, they often do well immediately.

There has been a boom in the cannabis dispensary industry in New Jersey, on both the medical and recreational side – as we can see with more and more dispensaries opening across the state. Clearly, there is a lot of demand in this industry, and increasing supply, too.

As we often see in different states around the US, there’s a culture around cannabis dispensing and customers who shop at weed retailers. In dispensaries for recreational cannabis, there’s a lot of information for customers about the different types and strains, and their effects, which is all valuable for customers to understand what to buy.

Here, we’re going to explore how to open a dispensary in New Jersey. We’ll take you through a range of things, from the laws, restrictions and licensing around cannabis in New Jersey, to how you can optimize your customers’ experience in your store.

Is Medical Cannabis Legal in New Jersey?

As is the case in 38 of the 50 states in the US, medical marijuana and low-THC cannabis is legal in New Jersey. However, it can only be obtained under particular circumstances, and by certain people, under the laws, licenses and restrictions present in New Jersey.

Medical marijuana was legalized in New Jersey in January 2010, with the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (CUMMA) being put into place. There have been amendments to this act in September 2013, and since then, the rules for both patients and dispensaries have essentially stayed the same.

Restrictions around Medical Cannabis in New Jersey

There are restrictions when it comes to dispensing medical cannabis in the state of New Jersey.

People who are registered patients of the New Jersey Medicinal Cannabis Program (NJMCP) can order medical marijuana and cannabis. To be a registered patient, they need to have one of the following medical conditions:

  •   Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  •   Anxiety
  •   Cancer
  •   Chronic pain
  •   Dysmenorrhea
  •   Glaucoma
  •   Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
  •   Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
  •   Migraine
  •   Multiple sclerosis
  •   Muscular dystrophy
  •   Opioid Use Disorder
  •   Positive status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  •   Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  •   Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
  •   Terminal illness with prognosis of less than 12 months to live
  •   Tourette’s Syndrome

Also, to be registered as a patient of the NJMCP, people must submit a full application and await a decision. They will also need to be New Jersey residents to do this.

This is something which dispensaries have to keep in mind, as they’ll need to check that everyone who orders or buys medical cannabis from them is legally allowed to, to ensure that everyone stays on the right side of the law.

Licenses for Dispensing Medical Cannabis in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission is the governing body which gives businesses the licenses required to dispense medical and recreational cannabis.

Every cannabis business in New Jersey requires a license to do anything related to weed, from growing it to selling it.

To open a medical cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, you need to be an approved Alternative Treatment Centre (ATC), also known as a Medical Cannabis Dispensary. When applying, you need to provide several documents, including a business plan, and evidence that your business is in good standing with the New Jersey Secretary of State.

The other documents you’ll need when applying to become an Alternative Treatment Centre are as follows:

  •   Detailed long-term debt description;
  •   Compensation plans;
  •   Tax returns;
  •   Financial statements;
  •   Charitable contributions;
  •   Governing corporate documents;
  •   Contracts with suppliers;
  •   Statutory and/or regulatory violations, and
  •   Litigation History.

Clearly, the process of becoming an Alternative Treatment Centre – or Medical Cannabis Dispensary – is a complex one. This is the case in many states, though, to ensure that every business selling medical marijuana and cannabis is doing so in a way that is regulated, to keep patients and customers safe and healthy.

How to Open a Medical Cannabis Dispensary in New Jersey

When you’ve got all the right licenses and applications granted, it’s time to start planning to open your medical cannabis dispensary.

A big part of opening your dispensary is making sure that you’re marketing your products in the right way, in accordance with the regulations. This way, you can get more customers and make sure people know about you, whilst adhering to the rules.

For example, it’s a good idea to refrain from using bright or neon colors in your branding, as this is often associated with the recreational cannabis industry.

Also, when you’re selling medical cannabis, as we’ve mentioned before, make sure you’re selling to the right people – this means checking over their documentation and ID so you’re clear on whether they can legally buy from you.

The last step in opening your medical cannabis dispensary in New Jersey is setting up your premises. Again, this is all about ensuring that your brand and colors reflect the medical nature of the products you’re selling, so that customers aren’t confused about what you’re dispensing.

Recreational Cannabis in New Jersey

If you’re looking to open a recreational cannabis dispensary in New Jersey and are wondering about the restrictions and licenses you’ll need, then read on.

Is Recreational Cannabis Legal in New Jersey?

As of the 22nd of February 2021, recreational cannabis is legal in the state of New Jersey, with certain restrictions and regulations surrounding this.

This happened after a cultural shift towards accepting the recreational use of cannabis, and wanting to make the cannabis industry inclusive and equitable.

It’s interesting to note that, since the legalization of recreational weed in 2021, the residents of New Jersey haven’t changed their views on cannabis.

A recent poll in 2023 showed that 53% of people in New Jersey supported dispensaries selling recreational weed in their area.

Restrictions around Recreational Cannabis in New Jersey

As with medical cannabis in New Jersey, there are certain restrictions on who can buy recreational cannabis, and how much they can buy.

In New Jersey, people have to be over the age of 21 to be able to buy weed from a licensed dispensary. Therefore, customers may have to show government-issued Identification as proof of age when they’re purchasing recreational cannabis. Also, they are only allowed to have up to 6 oz of cannabis products in their possession at any given time.

Any recreational cannabis should be purchased from a fully-licensed recreational weed dispenser or retailer.

Dispensers must go through an application process to get these licenses, allowing them to sell recreational cannabis legally.

When selling recreational cannabis – as is the case with medical cannabis – dispensers and retailers have to make sure their customers are of the right age. Also, dispensers and retailers can’t sell over a certain amount of weed, in line with the 6 oz cap on recreational cannabis possession in New Jersey.

This all being said, when the laws and regulations are followed and the licenses obtained, setting up a recreational cannabis dispensary in New Jersey could prove to be a profitable venture.

Licenses for Selling Recreational Cannabis in New Jersey

When it comes to selling and dispensing recreational cannabis in New Jersey, you need to obtain a license before opening your business.

The license you get depends on the nature of your business. There are 7 categories of recreational cannabis business, as follows:

  1. Class 1 Cultivator;
  2. Class 2 Manufacturer;
  3. Class 3 Wholesaler;
  4. Class 4 Distributor;
  5. Class 5 Retailer;
  6. Class 6 Delivery Service;
  7. Testing Laboratory.

If your business falls into multiple categories, you’re allowed to combine licenses, without any cap or restriction on the number of licenses you can get.

When applying to become a licensed recreational cannabis business, you’ll need to fill out a few forms and provide evidence and documentation, depending on the category you’re applying for a license under.

This ensures that you understand the regulations around the use of recreational cannabis, and that you have a solid business plan and will be able to uphold high standards in the industry.

More and more recreational cannabis businesses are being opened across New Jersey, with the required licenses, as the industry continues to boom. So, once you’ve obtained your license, it’s time to start thinking about opening your business.

How to Open a Recreational Cannabis Dispensary in New Jersey

Now that everything is in place for you to open your recreational cannabis dispensary in New Jersey, it’s time to think about how you want to brand and market yourself.

Generally, there is more chance for creativity when you’re choosing your branding and marketing strategies in the recreational cannabis industry. This is because you’re allowed to use brighter colors and market your different products with more information on their benefits and effects.

Having the right marketing is essential, due to the competition in New Jersey right now. While it is of course great that the industry is booming, it means you’ll likely have to work harder to get your company and brand out there.

However, once you’ve established your brand and marketing, and you’ve seen a bit of interest from potential customers, it’s time to set up your premises. This is when you can really get creative with interior design, using your brand colors to create a fun and enjoyable environment for your customers.

How Seed Can Help

Now, more than ever, it’s important that customers have all the information they need to make the right buying decisions. This means having the details of your products around your store, so customers can read up while they’re waiting to be served.

At Seed Technology, we can help with exactly that. We’re a digital engagement technology company for cannabis retailers, meaning we supply TV, self-service and other systems which you can put up in your premises and market your products on.

This way, you can help customers with their buying journey by creating informative visuals to educate them about your products.

Also, by having information and screens up in your premises, you can keep customers entertained and engaged while they’re shopping and waiting to be served at the checkouts. This way, their shopping experience with you will be enjoyable and fun, regardless of any potential wait times.

If you want to help your cannabis dispensary in New Jersey be more successful and increase revenue get Seed Technology. 

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