The town of Maplewood has voted to allow the sale of recreational marijuana. It comes less than two days before legal cannabis can be sold across New Jersey.
Apothecarium Dispensary Maplewood has been selling medical marijuana in town for almost a year. The owners are getting ready for Thursday. Workers expect long lines, crowds and curious onlookers.
The facility is run by TerrAscend, a multistate company.
Maplewood Mayor Dean Dafis said that he wanted to make sure that the business was ready to handle sales to the public.
“There never been a question about whether or not they would be good for Maplewood. I think they’ve proven that. We just wanted to make sure that as they expand they’re going to be committed to our success as a community and meet all of our conditions,” the mayor said.
But as the state marks this historic moment, small business owners now face an against-the-odds battle.
“One of the biggest hurdles, for especially minority-owned businesses and small businesses like us, is raising the capital,” says Carl Burwell, co-owner of Garden State Hemp.
They needed at least $1 million to start, and no banks. There are still federal laws against selling marijuana.
Burwell and his business partner have been studying the marijuana industry for five years, making connections. They are now trying to raise money through friends, family and private investors.
They say that New Jersey’s marijuana industry is currently only for the rich and politically connected.
“It can cost you on the low end of $50,000 to $200,000 just to apply,” says Burwell.
But they remain hopeful.
“It’s a bittersweet moment, you know? It’s nice that it’s here. It’s a historic moment for New Jersey,” says Garden State Hemp co-owner Jonathan Rojas.
Thirteen locations will be selling legal marijuana on April 21.