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New marijuana legalization bill will limit state to 80 retail licenses

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The bill would limit New Jersey to 80 retail dispensary licenses for the state's 9 million residents.
The bill would limit New Jersey to 80 retail dispensary licenses for the state's 9 million residents. - ()

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora intends to introduce a new marijuana legalization bill within the next week that would limit New Jersey to 80 retail dispensary licenses for the entire state, an official from Gusciora's office confirmed today.

The new bill was written based off of State Senator Nicholas Scutari’s legalization bill.

“[Scutari’s] bill was a jumping off point when we thought about what we wanted to do,” Gusciroa’s Chief of Staff Brendan Neal said. “[We had] conversations with advocates and stakeholders, people who’ve had experience in other states where legal marijuana has been approved — we found there were a couple of problems.”

Neal said that the new bill would address the issue of homegrown marijuana and an emphasis on expunging criminal records related to marijuana convictions, both of which were absent in Scutari’s bill and criticized by industry experts.

The bill’s limit of 80 retail dispensaries for New Jersey’s 9 million residents has been criticized by Founder and Chief Operator of BSC Group Brian Staffa, who says the number is far too low, noting Denver has roughly 800 retail dispensaries for a city of less than 700,000 residents.

Neal said they were aware of the criticism but didn’t plan on expanding the number based on what has happened in other states that offered more licenses.

“The unlimited proliferation of marijuana shops has been detrimental because it starts this race to the bottom,” Neal said. “You’re trying to produce cheaper products at a lower price point to compete with the influx of businesses.”

The 80 licenses would be distributed amongst the 40 legislative districts in New Jersey, allowing two licenses per district to distribute dispensaries proportional to population centers. Neal said the bill would set up a Division of Marijuana Enforcement which could potentially expand the number of licenses based on market analysis.

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Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn grew up in Massachusetts and previously covered the video game industry in Los Angeles, city politics in Malibu, California, and local news in Bergen County before working at NJBIZ. He currently covers cannabis, government and tech.

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Charles Gormally January 31, 2018 4:11 pm

I hope our legislators rethink this limited retail license scheme. A more appropriate measure would be the number of liquor licenses that exist in a particular geographical area. 80 appears to be a completely arbitrary number of licenses without regard to providing access to facilities in reasonable proximity to a customers home.

Fester January 31, 2018 12:42 pm

Limiting the number of dispensaries kills one of the biggest benefits of legalization, which is the creation of thousands of new jobs. Rather then keeping prices artificially high to keep the taxes high, why not let the industry create decent paying jobs that will generate more state income tax not to mention the dispensaries could help to fill some of the many vacant store fronts.