TRENTON – Legal sales of adult-use, recreational marijuana will begin on April 21 in New Jersey.

Seven alternative treatment centers got initial approvals Monday from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to begin adult-use sales at 13 existing medical dispensaries. The CRC says those licenses will be issued to allow sales to start next Thursday, with each ATC deciding its own start date.

“This is an exciting time for New Jersey,” said Jeff Brown, the CRC executive director. “New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly to have access to adult-use cannabis and it is now here. I am very proud of the work the commission has done over the past year to open the market. We have been intentional and deliberate to do everything in our power to set the market on good footing to start.”

There are 23 medical dispensaries in the state currently, but not all of them will offer recreational sales, in some cases because the municipalities where they’re located haven’t approved.

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The dispensaries that will have recreational sales are in Bellmawr, Bloomfield, Deptford, Edgewater Park, Egg Harbor Township, Elizabeth, Lawrence, Maplewood, Paterson, Phillipsburg, Rochelle Park, Vineland and Williamstown.

Gov. Phil Murphy had pledged as a candidate in 2017 that he’d legalize adult-use marijuana in his first hundred days in office. In the end, the first sales will happen on his 1,557th day in office – and 535 days after New Jersey voters legalized them in a referendum.

The CRC said the companies that will have recreational sales will be assessed on whether they meet certain social equity standards, such as diversity in hiring and management, support for community programs, the number of new and local businesses to which they provide technical support and the percentage of minority-owned vendors or suppliers with which they contract.

“We remain committed to social equity,” said Dianna Houenou, the CRC chairwoman. “We promised to build this market on the pillars of social equity and safety. Ultimately, we hope to see businesses and a workforce that reflect the diversity of the state, and local communities that are positively impacted by this new and growing industry.”

The CRC has approved 102 conditional licenses specific to the recreational marijuana business, all for cultivators and manufacturers. It continues to consider other license applications.

The state has also received at least 327 applications for marijuana retailers. They began to be accepted in March, and none have yet been approved.

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