For those in the know, New Jersey is the most sought after target in the cannabis industry as of mid-2017 and is poised to become the 2nd most valuable adult-use market in the world behind California.
- Residents overwhelmingly support legalization – 59% at last polling on 9/14/17
- NJ itself has 9MM residents, and the out of state market can’t be ignored. Another 20MM from neighboring states of NY, PA, DE, MD, and CT live within a 2 hour commute via car or train. If you open the window to include those willing to travel within a day’s drive, you’re looking at 130MM.
- Since rec cannabis is only legal in one other state east of the Mississippi, Massachusetts, there’s likely going to be people willing to make a full day trip to get legal cannabis.
- Even though Vermont will legalize in 2018, it’s located North of MA and therefore shouldn’t cut into New Jersey’s territory any more than MA already would.
- 98MM visitors flock to NJ annually, and it’s possible that landmarks like Atlantic City, Jersey Shore, Delaware River Nat’l Rec Area could become more attractive tourist destinations in combination with the end of cannabis prohibition in NJ.
- NJ is home to 585MM sq. ft. of warehouse space, making the choice of properly zoned and approved locations abundant, especially compared to the feeble options in many other recent states.
- The infrastructure is excellent. More than 38,000 miles of interstates and highways crisscross the state, and 6 international airports – Newark, LaGuardia, JFK, Trenton, Atlantic City, and Philadelphia – enable tourists far and wide to access the market.
The population in NJ is more accepting of cannabis politically, socially, and economically than the general US population.
- NJ is one of the wealthiest states and will be the #2 richest state with legalized cannabis behind Alaska, which isn’t competing with NJ.
- It’s also one of most educated states in the US when looking at educational attainment – #5 for bachelor’s degrees and #7 for advanced degrees.
- A struggling medical program has been in place for 7 years and has gained a lot of attention and increased awareness that legalized cannabis is coming (and is necessary).
Regulations and draft bills have been circling for over 2 years, gathering a ton of support. The bill may be adjusted slightly, but overall the final draft is expected to closely resemble its current form.
Notwithstanding the wholesale license, which most in the industry are staunchly opposed to, the NJ program is structured to be incredibly profitable.
- A limited number of licenses will maintain the integrity of a closed market
- Licenses will be awarded based on merit-based application process
- NJ’s vertical medical framework will be broken up, creating multiple license types (cultivation, processing, retail, transport) but not so many license types that it creates confusion like in California
- Multiple licenses of each type will create healthy competition within the marketplace
- The state will allow municipalities to opt out, but they’re unlikely to allow individualized ordinances as is the case in California, which discourages all but the most determined applicant teams
- A tiered approach to licensing/expansion will guarantee margins for efficient operators
- A large number of geographically distributed licenses will give hundreds the opportunity to provide generational wealth to their families with this new industry
- A tiered taxation system should help stamp out the black market and shift market purchasing habits into the taxed market. Hopefully the taxation plan tiers more slowly than it is currently laid out. This will be one of the changes we’re looking for in the revised bill.
Other misc advantages of NJ:
- Some banks in NJ already work with cannabis operators, making access to banking a bit less of a hurdle than in states starting from scratch
- With only six existing medical licenses, of which only 1 is currently operating at scale in a commercially viable manner, demand for new operators is huge.
- NJ is home to an educated and plentiful workforce, with 63 colleges, universities and technical schools providing new qualified workers every year
- Land is comparatively inexpensive in the southern portion of state
- “Garden State” translates to great greenhouse growing opportunities, with over 200 days of sunshine per year and mild winters
- Easy access to ports / transportation hubs enables one of the most efficient supply chains in the world
Advantages of NJ simply because of when it’s happening:
- Many regulations will be drafted once and set in stone, unlike CO, WA, or OR who have had to alter regulations dozens of times, costing the industry hundreds of millions in expenses and lost revenue
- Ancillary businesses / supply chain is in place and much easier to access than it was 3-5 years ago in other legalized states
- Experienced cannabis professionals have been operating both in and out of state for years and have been sharing knowledge for the benefit of newcomers
- Because the Medical program has been here for 7 years and legalization has been talked about for quite some time now, towns/municipalities that are supportive have wisely started to preemptively zone, thereby making it easier for would-be investors to find suitable real estate
Those who recognize the value of this opportunity are also recognizing that it’s not too early to be preparing for the application process, putting teams together and taking all necessary steps to get ahead in New Jersey. There’s an invaluable event scheduled for January 25th at NJPAC which we’re proud to be co-hosting. Please visit www.legalcannabisinnj.com for more information.