New Jersey adult recreational weed sales will begin at three Central Jersey stores this week.
Stores in Eatontown, Woodbridge and Union that currently sell medical marijuana will launch legal weed sales at 10 a.m. Wednesday, owner AYR Wellness told N.J. Advance Media Sunday.
Currently, the three stores, which operate under the Garden State Medical Dispensary banner, are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.
The company plans to issue a press release on the opening date and times on Monday before Wall Street opens, according to a company representative.
The three stores means a total of 16 stores will be selling adult weed in New Jersey come Wednesday.
AYR has been taking steps for the past year to enter the lucrative New Jersey cannabis market. It acquired Garden State Medical Dispensary, which has been selling medical-only marijuana at the dispensaries in Eatontown, Woodbridge and Union for years under the GSMD blue and white banner.
The company’s quest to land state approvals to begin offering adult recreational weed in Central Jersey was first reported by N.J. Advance Media early last month.
The state Cannabis Regulatory Commission approved AYR’s application to launch adult recreational weed sales in Central Jersey at its meeting on May 24 after seven other medical dispensaries, also known as alternative treatment centers, were approved the previous month.
AYR was the only alternative treatment center among the eight that originally applied with the CRC that was denied approval on April 11.
Seven ATCs — Curaleaf, Verano, GTI, Acreage, Columbia Care, Ascend and TerrAscend — launched adult weed sales on April 21 at a dozen locations. Curaleaf in Edgewater Park became the 13th location to offer adult weed sales on May 25.
The state Cannabis Regulatory Commission on May 24 also approved TerrAscend, to offer adult weed in its Lodi facility; and Ascend in its Montclair dispensary.
The Montclair and Lodi stores have yet to open for adult weed sales, according to the owners.
After AYR received state approvals on May 24, company spokesman Rob Vanisko said the densely populated Central Jersey market of 3.4 million residents was under-served for adult recreational cannabis and provided AYR a perfect expansion opportunity.
The Woodbridge dispensary abuts the heavily traveled Route 1 corridor at 950 U.S.-1 and sits next to the St. Georges Crossing strip mall with a ShopRite, Pet Smart, Verizon, House of Wine & Liquor, among other stores.
The non-stop flow of traffic past the Woodbridge AYR store could be seen and felt during a visit last week.
Medical cannabis customer Evan Lark, 37, of Newark, said he was looking forward to recreational weed sales launching there.
Lark, a package handler for UPS, said he uses medical marijuana to calm his nerves and boost his energy level. His medical card costs $220 per year. He said each visit to Garden State Medical Dispensary in Woodbridge runs him a tab of $40 to $100 for his favorite flower products
“It will make the price of my medical card worth it,” said Lark, after leaving the store last week. “As soon as the state passed (adult recreational weed), I’ve seen nothing but deals, deals, deals on medical cannabis products. The new competition is driving down price for me for medical cannabis so bring it on.”
For Ty Johnson, 30, of Woodbridge, it will mean a much shorter commute. He will no longer have to travel to Elizabeth to purchase adult weed.
“It will be so much more convenient,” said Johnson, a truck driver, as he existed the Popeye’s in the strip mall next to the Woodbridge Garden State Medical Dispensary last Tuesday. “I live in the area so this is a good thing, especially with the gas prices.”
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com