Four more states have legalized recreational weeds. Here’s how long you have to wait to buy

This is not to say that people in these places can still legally buy weeds for non-medical purposes.

Although the steps taken at the urns further strengthen the $ 19 billion U.S. cannabis industry, the passages are early steps in an often complex and lengthy process.

History has shown that it can take months, or in some cases years, for the first regulated sale to take place. It takes time to develop regulatory programs; establishing testing, monitoring and security protocols; construction of supply chains; license managers; and, of course, to grow the plants. In two states, a legal challenge has been raised against voting initiatives, which means that legalization efforts there could potentially fail.

Here’s an overview of where things are in the latest adult states – and when people can buy cannabis there.

New Jersey

The Garden State gets the lion’s share of attention among the newly legal states.

The size of the market can be quite significant. It is the first of the Mid-Atlantic states to legalize recreational cannabis and create a potentially large regional canna tourism center given the proximity to Philadelphia and New York City. New Jersey is also seen as a catalyst for other neighboring states to implement legalization plans.

The new law will take effect on January 1, 2021, and if legislative and regulatory efforts move at a rapid pace, sales to adults could begin by the end of next year, said Steven Hawkins, executive director of the legalization advocacy, Marijuana Policy Project. organization, said CNN Business.

“It will take time to expand [of the New Jersey industry]Hawkins said. – The current [medical cannabis businesses] he was unable to meet a demand that would obviously come not only from New Jersey residents but from people passing through New York. ”

But first, legislators need to adjust exactly what their state’s recreational cannabis program would look like.

Through the New Jersey State House, legal regulation has begun to implement a legal market for adult cannabis. It has already seen some substantive changes, namely the addition of language to better address social justice problems, directing more revenue to communities disproportionately affected by the drug war. However, efforts have come across some stumbles in recent weeks. Bills passing through the State Senate and the General Assembly do not fully agree on key aspects, such as whether to limit the number of commercial cultivators.

But disagreements are unlikely to become a major dead end, Hawkins said.

An additional hurdle may arise if a bill passed by the state legislature requires cannabis growers for medical use to demonstrate their ability to meet recreational and medical needs.

In New Jersey, which opened its medical cannabis patient list in 2012, as of November 30, 12 companies are licensed to grow medical cannabis and 13 pharmacies are operating.

New Frontier Data, an analyst firm specializing in the cannabis industry, said sales in New Jersey are expected to drop to $ 1.8 billion in the fourth year of operation.


Arizona, where efforts to legalize adult cannabis four years ago have barely failed and has passed 60-40 this year, is the first of four new adult states to start selling legal cannabis.

Unlike New Jersey, where the language of the ballot is much was decided by the state legislature, the Arizona measure determined most of the rules and regulations. He asks the Arizona Department of Health to begin applying for a recreational permit on January 19, 2021, and to determine within 60 days whether they meet the qualification.
“The timeline the initiative has received is quite aggressive, so we don’t expect to be able to do it faster,” – Steve White, CEO of cannabis operator in Arizona Harvest (HRVSF) he told KGUN9 earlier this month.

Legal possession of cannabis for recreational purposes began on Monday when the state verified the election results; however, with the exception of registered medical cannabis patients, arizonans 21 years of age or older do not yet have a legal means of obtaining cannabis.

South Dakota

The recreational cannabis program usually follows a standard medical marijuana program. Earlier this month, South Dakota became the first U.S. state to legalize both at once.

However, election night results were inadequate with the state’s Republican governor, some business leaders and law enforcement officials. Governor Kristi Noem said the measures were a “bad choice” for the state and the county sheriff and highway patrol supervisor filed a legal complaint to invalidate Amendment A, which legalized recreational cannabis. The complaint alleges that the amendment violates the state’s single-subject rule regarding voting and alleges that it amends several articles of the state’s constitution.
The law will take effect on July 1, 2021, and the South Dakota Department of Taxation must develop a licensing system for future businesses by April 1, 2022, says the South Dakota Revenue Department, which has stated that it does not expect to begin acceptance. permit applications “sometime before 2022”.
On average, it takes about 18 months from the adoption of the bill to the development of the framework and the opening of applications, ”said Bethany Gomez, managing director of Brightfield Group, a market research firm typical of the cannabis industry. However, some states took much longer. The first sale of recreational cannabis took place in Maine in October, nearly four years after voters there approved the sale.

“I expect these Republican governments to be slow on it, especially in South Dakota,” he said.


In Montana, regulators set a deadline of October 1, 2021, to lay down rules for recreational sales and begin licensing.

However, as in South Dakota, establishing a cannabis industry for adults should not be a challenge. Opponents of the legalization have filed a lawsuit in the Montana District Court, arguing that the measure violates state laws because it attributes tax revenues from retail sales of marijuana to various state departments.

In addition, the recreational cannabis measure is required by law, meaning legislation could delay or slow implementation, said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the marijuana policy project.

“Of course, we hope that’s not the case,” he said.

If regulatory efforts move forward smoothly, Schweich predicts sales could begin by February 2022.