It’s official: Pennsylvania’s neighbor to the east is now on its way to becoming one of the largest recreational cannabis markets in the world.
One year after New Jersey voters greenlit the option, adult-use sales of legal cannabis began Thursday and “Prohibition 2.0” was formally lifted.
The lines were predictably long and fed in part by neighboring states like Pennsylvania, where legalization remains a distant prospect, and New York, where recreational pot was approved in 2021 but is not yet for sale.
There are plenty of skeptics when it comes to cannabis legalization. There are also critics who say states like New Jersey — which expects to collect $30 million in cannabis revenue this year — aren't doing enough to address the lingering effects caused by decades of criminalization.
If you’re planning to make the trip east, there are a few things you’ll need to know to avoid a cannabis-related arrest of your own.
And if you haven’t had cannabis since high school, there’s a few more things you should know to avoid getting excruciatingly high.
Here's how it works:
Who can buy it?
Like alcohol, you have to be at least 21 years old with an ID, and that’s pretty much it.
How much can I buy?
Up to one ounce of dried flower (the form most people are familiar with); up to five grams of concentrates, resins, or oils (the latter often consumed via vape pens); and up to 1,000 milligrams of edibles. Note: These are limits, not recommended amounts. Most people will require much less.
Where can I buy it?
Here’s a map of the dozen or so dispensaries currently cleared for recreational sales. As of Thursday, some were doing sales by appointment only, so maybe call ahead.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary by location and product. Let this recreational menu from a dispensary in Paterson be a guide. Cannabis is still federally illegal, meaning most credit card companies won’t touch the proceeds. While debit cards might work at New Jersey dispensaries, cash is the safest bet.
Am I allowed to bring legally purchased cannabis from New Jersey into Pennsylvania?
Definitely not. That’s illegal under Pennsylvania law and federal law for everyone: Pennsylvanians, Pennsylvania medical marijuana cardholders, and New Jerseyans, too.
Where can I consume it?
Only on private property in New Jersey with the property owner’s permission. Also don’t consume there and then drive back to Pennsylvania. That’s a DUI in both states. (Seriously, don’t consume and drive at all.)
How much should I consume?
The answer depends almost entirely on your experience with and tolerance for THC, pot’s main psychoactive ingredient.
If you’re inhaling it for the first time in a while or ever, noted enthusiast Seth Rogen suggests starting with a small sip and waiting 15 minutes.
If you’re ingesting it for the first time in a while or ever, cannabis entrepreneur Annie Nelson — wife to Willie — suggests a small dose of between 2.5 milligrams and 5 milligrams and waiting up to two hours. Put another way: You can always add but you can’t subtract.
—Colin Deppen, Spotlight PA