Free Legal Marijuana?

| 27 May 2022 | 01:36

Emerging cannabis businesses in our area are advertising “FREE Legal Marijuana.” This is creating a great deal of confusion with the public. How could it be “free” and is it really legal?

Your readers should be made aware that the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission did not issue retail sales licenses, except to a limited number of the previously existing medical facilities, until this month. They haven’t begun accepting license applications for marijuana wholesale, distribution, or delivery businesses either. Although West Milford has issued several resolutions in support of cannabis business, none have received their local license or final approval to operate yet.

Therefore, any advertisement’s claim of providing a “legal” service is rather dubious. Businesses in what is now called the “gray” market are taking advantage of what they perceive as loopholes. By calling their public cannabis sales a “gift,” with the purchase of an overpriced lighter or packaging, some of these unlicensed businesses have avoided enforcement actions... so far.

However, unlicensed businesses are NOT protected by the gifting provision. For the most egregious offenders, enforcement actions have already begun. As the state issues more licenses, I expect the enforcement actions to increase until only legitimate, state licensed businesses, remain.

The benefits of a fully regulated cannabis market are clear. Licensing is a mechanism for ensuring consumer protections, quality controls, and testing for safety and efficacy. Businesses are motivated to demonstrate model behavior in the competitive pursuit of licenses. And of course, licensed businesses pay the appropriate taxes, providing the community with a new revenue source. Oversight ensures the industry is accountable to operate legally and responsibly.

I want to emphasize, for the reasons above, I do not recommend opening a gray market business to anyone who may be pursuing a state issued cannabis license. Entrepreneurs (obviously) should secure the appropriate cannabis business licenses before serving the public.

You can verify this information as well as find a list of state licensed dispensaries, which is updated regularly, at the (CRC) Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s website:

The opinions expressed here are my own.

Michael Chazukow

West Milford