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Recreational marijuana officially becomes legal in New Jersey on Thursday, which means more than a few Philadelphians might be wondering if they can cross a bridge to snag some.
The short answer: N.J. regulations say you can, but bringing it back to Pa. runs afoul of federal law.
How we got here: Jersey voters in 2020 approved a referendum allowing recreational marijuana in the state. It took a while for regulations to be ironed out, but as of April 21, licenses are finally being issued.
So far, seven dispensary companies have been approved, and they operate 13 facilities across New Jersey. Most licensed retail locations have confirmed they’re ready to sell it on day one, but some are opting for limited hours.
Which ones? And what else should you know about legal weed sales across the river? Scroll down for a map and more.
Can I cross the bridge to buy recreational marijuana?
Starting Thursday, you can.
You have to be at least 21 years old to buy recreational marijuana under New Jersey’s law, and you can buy up to one ounce at a time. Overall, adults 21+ can possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana or 0.6 ounces of hashish at one time in the state.
If you plan to partake, make sure you have a place to hang out for a while (read: private residence or designated consumption area) because it’s illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in New Jersey.
Can I go to any dispensary in New Jersey?
No, at least not right away.
New Jersey first allowed medical marijuana in 2010 (and expanded the law in 2019, so there are quite a few cannabis dispensaries in the state. But only some of them have been approved to sell to recreational users.
Per a list sent to Billy Penn from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, three of those companies have a combined six outposts in nearby South Jersey — Curaleaf, Columbia Care and Acreage CCF.
To get a recreational license, dispensaries are required to demonstrate medical patients won’t be disadvantaged. Most are planning separate check-out lanes, while some are promising dedicated hotlines, and ramped up production specifically for medical patients.
You might want to call ahead before you make a visit. Some dispensaries are limiting the hours of recreational weed sales. N.J. municipalities can also vote to ban the sales within their borders, so sometimes it’s not up to the company.
Curaleaf locations in Bellmawr and Edgewater Park plan to start recreational sales ASAP, a rep told Billy Penn, but the Bordentown location had no projected start date.
Representatives for Columbia Care, which retails in Vineland and Deptford as The Cannabist, didn’t initially think they’d be ready for opening day — but turns out they will be. They told Billy Penn both locations will sell recreational marijuana on April 21 from 5 p.m. until close.
The Acreage CCF facilities in Williamstown and Egg Harbor township, which are part of the The Botanist chain, have updated their outgoing voicemail message to explain that out-of-state IDs will be honored for recreational purchases, which have a different set of rules than medicinal ones. Their Atlantic City location, however, is not ready for recreational sales.
A lawyer says bringing it back to Philly is ‘a horrible idea’
Under federal law, marijuana is still an illegal substance. Possession is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. Carrying across state lines comes with additional penalties.
“Transporting the product back across state lines would subject the individual to criminal penalties and, frankly put, is a horrible idea,” said Pennsylvania cannabis lawyer Bill Roark.
In Pennsylvania, recreational marijuana still isn’t legal either. Some jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, have decriminalized it with reduced penalties. The fine in Philly for possession of 30 grams or less for personal use is $25, and using marijuana in public can earn you a $100 ticket.
What if I have a Pa. medical marijuana card?
Medical marijuana patients in the commonwealth do not get a free pass to possess cannabis products from other states. According to Pa. law, patients must get their medical cannabis from a Pennsylvania dispensary.
Card-carrying medical marijuana patients in Pa. are advised to keep products in the original packaging, said attorney Roark, so they can easily show it was obtained legally.
When will more NJ dispensaries start selling?
Dozens of conditional licenses have been approved for smaller cultivators and manufacturers, several of which are not already operating medical marijuana businesses in New Jersey.
Those licensees need time to grow their crop and get their facilities up and running, which could take up to a year, NJ.com reports.
Will recreational marijuana ever be legal in Pa.?
It’s definitely possible.
State lawmakers have started holding hearings to consider the various factors involved in legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. The first took place in February, and another was last month, and there’s now support on both sides of the aisle.
“There’s more and more momentum. Everyday something has happened that hasn’t happened before,” said Roark. The hearings are an important step toward state legislation, he added, but nothing’s likely to happen before the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Federal lawmakers are also moving in the direction of decriminalizing marijuana. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month that would remove the drug from the list of controlled substances. But that bill is not expected to pass the Senate.