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Legal Marijuana Sales Begin In New Jersey — And Shops Are On A Roll


Weed sales are smoking hot in the Garden State.

Thousands of happy stoners flocked to pot shops in New Jersey Thursday — forming lines that snaked around the block at some locations — on the state’s first day of legal marijuana sales.

More than 2,000 people snapped up pre-rolled joints, flowers and edibles within hours at Ascend, a luxury cannabis shop in Rochelle Park, with customers declaring it’s high time Jersey lit up with premium-grade pot.

“This is the high-end retail of weed!” said Jason Davis, 38, a business development manager from Bloomfield. “This is much better than what I used to get from my old salesman. Much higher quality!”

Davis bought five pre-rolled joints and 3.5 grams of pot for $140, more than twice what he would have paid his dealer, he said.

“But this is higher end. You get to pick which kind. The old way, you bought what he had,” he said.

Other folks were surprised to find that buying drugs was as innocuous as a trip to Yankee Candle.

“It was like walking into a candle shop! Very organized. Everyone is super-friendly. Professional, just a smooth experience. This is the way to go!” said Carl Grande, 31, the founder of a fitness and nutrition company, who bought 3.5 grams of pot and a pre-rolled joint for $80.

Drivers sitting in clogged traffic on Route 17 due to the opening could be heard hollering in support of — and opposition to — pot legalization in the state.

“It’s about time!” one driver yelled.

“Devil’s playground!” another shouted.

Rochelle Park police officers on Thursday stood guard at the store to monitor traffic to ensure the opening would be smooth, according to a rep from Ascend, which previously operated as a medical marijuana dispensary.

“The town of Rochelle Park is very concerned about the opening, the traffic, the parking,” said Caitlin Fleishman, 27, director of communications at Ascend. “We leased another parking lot and have increased parking spaces from 85 spots to 130. We’ve moved all employee parking offsite.”

Ascend accepts appointment-only clients at the store, according to chief revenue officer Chris Melillo, 48. It charges $15 for one pre-rolled joint and $65 for 3.5 grams of pot.

“We wanted an appointment system where you order online, you select a time, you get a confirmation with a barcode and then your order is waiting for you pre-picked and packed,” he said.

He said customers Thursday ranged from their 20s to their 60s and generally spent over $130 each.

“This is better, instead of in the shadows, dealing with sketchy people, you can have legit businesses that will help fund schools and local government,” said Adam Fischer, a 24-year-old customer from Westwood.

Recreational weed sales in New Jersey are expected to generate $30 million in tax revenue during the 2022 fiscal year, and $121 million by 2023, Gov. Phil Murphy has said.

The state imposed a 6.625% sales tax on marijuana, with 70% of the proceeds going to social programs in areas disproportionately impacted by pot-related arrests, and to fund the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

Towns can also levy a tax of up to 2%.



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