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Opportunity Watch: New Jersey Could Legalize Recreational Marijuana

The Garden State is poised to get a little greener – and that could spell sales potential for promotional products distributors eager to build business in the nascent legal cannabis industry.

Nicholas Scutari, a New Jersey state senator, has introduced bills this month that would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults age 21 and older. One bill additionally calls for the expansion of the Garden State’s already legal medical marijuana program, while the other bill focuses strictly on recreational legalization. Analysts say the dual bill approach is a way of covering bases in case lawmakers are hesitant to vote for medical marijuana expansion along with recreational legalization.

Under Scutari’s primary bill focused on recreational legalization and medical cannabis expansion, New Jersey could establish up to 120 recreational cannabis dispensaries. There would be as many as 98 medical marijuana stores – up from the current six. Each of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts would receive at least two recreational dispensaries. Twenty-five cannabis growers could operate in New Jersey, according to the bill. Folks 21 and older could legally possess, buy, use and transport an ounce or less of marijuana for recreational use.

While there is doubt that the New Jersey legislature would pass Scutari’s particular bill by the state’s budget deadline in three weeks, the march toward marijuana legalization in the Garden State might be inevitable given what appears to be growing political will that favors making cannabis consumption legal for adults. Gov. Phil Murphy has made both recreational legalization and medical marijuana program expansion priorities of his administration. Indeed, his fiscal year 2019 budget assumes recreational marijuana will be legalized and banks on revenues from the industry. Murphy said that social justice is a top reason behind his push for legalizing recreational consumption:

Even so, some social justice advocates say more should be done.

From a promotional products perspective, legal recreational marijuana in New Jersey could represent a fertile market for new business, particularly for distributors in the Garden State, New York and eastern Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia area.

At the least, dispensaries, growers and processors could potentially require uniforms/company apparel for employees, in addition to branded items like pens and mugs for internal use, as well as gifts and rewards for workers. Dispensaries could also, potentially, need branded packaging items, including prescription bottles and/or bags for providing cannabis to customers. Depending on what the final advertising restrictions are, dispensaries could also be in the market for branded merchandise to give or sell to customers – anything from matchbooks, lighters, printed tin rolling trays, rolling papers, and so-called “doob tubes,” to T-shirts, hoodies, hats and even power banks. And who knows, savvy suppliers could come up with new products focused especially on the cannabis industry, like this “420 Advent Calendar.”