Despite huge crowds showing pent-up anticipation from local citizens and consumers traveling from nearby New York and Pennsylvania, New Jersey’s recreational cannabis industry has gotten to a surprisingly smooth opening. NJ has the distinct honor of being the first in the tri-state area to open its recreational cannabis use market officially. However, it might not be all sunshine and rainbows for the residents of the Garden State, as supply chains are in a precarious position and may not be able to keep up with the demand.
Supply Vs. Demand
Concerns about whether operators will be able to supply the state’s 120,000 medicinal cannabis users without interrupting recreational supplies were top of mind before Thursday’s opening.
According to a news release from New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, no patient-access concerns or shortages were reported on Day One and received “few minor complaints.”
Despite a reasonably seamless launch, supply problems remain. The most prominent early risk to New Jersey is massive demand without the supply to cope with it. At least in the short run, there will likely be supply-chain concerns.
Adding another spanner to the works, the New Jersey medical program, with only a dozen licensed operators, is trying desperately to catch up. There is a danger that if the medical program is not running at full capacity and now having recreational adult-use added to the mix, what will happen?
The Tri-State Conundrum
We spoke a while back about New Jersey’s cannabis market’s massive earning potential. Part of this is due to New York and Pennsylvania residents doing their buying in New Jersey because of how long it has taken those states’ authorities to get their markets up and running.
On the surface, one would imagine that cannabis retailers would be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of being the only legal recreational stores in the Tri-State area for the foreseeable future. It will be apparent very quickly that won’t be the case if the supply runs dry while they have lines of eager potheads around the corner. On the bright side, if they do decide to riot, it will be the laziest riot in history.
So with the NY and PA both adding to the influx of recreational consumers, this adds even more pressure on the already compromised supply chain.
The good news is that the MMJ community is so far managing to make good on its promise to ensure that medical marijuana users are given priority.
It is believed the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) met its commitment to guarantee that the seven marijuana firms allowed for the opening were able to handle the recreational business while prioritizing MMJ patients. How long this lasts remains to be seen. With any luck, the smooth opening day vibe continues, and the people that rely on weed for medical reasons continue to have a relatively uninterrupted supply.
The Consequences Of Running Dry
Empty shelves at dispensaries may tempt buyers to return to the illegal trade while making the launch of legal pot look haphazard or even mismanaged.
People aren’t the most patient, especially in this instance where the wait has been agonizingly long, with several false starts and bumps along the way. As easy as it may be to walk up to a dispensary or store, what stops them from calling up their old pot dealer if the product isn’t available. Saving themselves the long wait and hassle of standing in a line only to be turned away because there’s nothing left to buy?
A Final Thought
There is a lot of good to be taken away from the opening of the New Jersey cannabis market. Consumers can finally get their herb in a safe, controlled environment without being punished for enjoying a little green in the privacy of their own homes. However, if the supply doesn’t meet the massive demand, the MMJ community, dispensaries and those that make the mistake of turning to illicit means of procuring their ganja will be in for a bad time.
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