How to Open a New Jersey Dispensary in 2023

A.W. Naves
April 13, 2022

As the cannabis industry continues to blossom in the United States, New Jersey stands at the precipice of a green revolution. With the legalization and decriminalization of adult-use cannabis, the Garden State has become a fertile ground for budding entrepreneurs with 27 adult-use dispensaries currently open and 900 licenses on the books.

If you are among the many who have acquired a cannabis dispensary license and are ready to navigate this exciting new venture, read on for some helpful tips on opening your New Jersey dispensary.

Understanding New Jersey Dispensary Laws

Dispensaries must operate within the defined laws of their state and individual municipality if they are to thrive in the growing cannabis industry. The first thing you will want to do is review and understand the regulations that will apply to your new business.

Here is an overview of the most common questions asked about opening a New Jersey dispensary.

What are the cannabis limits for customers in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, there are limits on how much cannabis a dispensary can sell to a customer at one time. Customers are limited to purchases of 28.35 grams (1 ounce) of cannabis or its equivalent in products such as vape oil, resin, or edibles. There is no limitation on how many times a customer can return to a dispensary to purchase more product in a single day, but they cannot legally possess more than 6 ounces at any one time.

A New Jersey dispensary's POS and cannabis product offerings.

What are the dispensary location restrictions?

Restrictions on where a dispensary can be located vary from city to city across the state, and some municipalities have opted out of allowing dispensaries altogether. However, there are no restrictions in place at the state level regarding how many dispensaries can be located in a defined area, but local zoning may include limitations that will need to be reviewed based on the intended location of your dispensary.

The regulations surrounding cannabis have evolved, leading to changes in the way dispensaries can operate. Currently, the traditional restrictions on the placement of dispensaries no longer apply. Consequently, the establishment of a dispensary is now primarily governed by zoning laws set by each municipality. In other words, potential locations for dispensaries are determined by individual zoning regulations applicable in each respective area, rather than flat rules revolving around distances from schools, churches, and such.

What are the requirements for dispensary staff in New Jersey?

Dispensary staff much have valid cannabis employment IDs. Budtenders and other staff must be at least 21 years old, attend certification training, and pass a background check, including fingerprinting, to work in a dispensary.

What are the required security measures for a New Jersey dispensary?

Security is a critical concern, with robust protocols required to protect your product and ensure safe transactions. A full list of the necessary security measures is available online, but it only includes the minimum requirements.

Below is a summary of the key security requirements:

  • Install and maintain safety and security systems to prevent theft, including emergency notifications, backup systems, and panic buttons for personnel.
  • Apply adequate safety measures to prevent unauthorized entry to premises from outside. 
  • Install adequate security to prevent unauthorized access to cannabis product storage areas.
  • Maintain video surveillance systems for the interior and exterior of the premises with monthly testing and real-time monitoring capabilities. Video surveillance must be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Ensure adequate lighting is in place to illuminate entrances, exits, and potential entry points.
  • Provide neighbors within 100 feet and law enforcement with adequate contact info for a member of staff who can be reached in case of any issues involving the dispensary.
A New Jersey security officer monitoring the dispensary's security cameras.

Profitability of a New Jersey Dispensary

New Jersey dispensaries are expected to generate $1 billion in sales in 2023. That number is expected to increase to as much as $2.4 billion in 2026. With numbers like that, your dispensary can indeed be profitable, but it will require careful planning and management. Factors such as location, competition, product quality, customer service, and effective marketing all play into the profitability equation. Given the projected growth of the industry, those who strategize effectively could reap significant benefits.

New Jersey Dispensary Design Considerations

An engaging and customer-friendly design can set your dispensary apart. You should consider your target audience and ideal customer experience when designing your dispensary.

Here are a few tips for designing a space that will draw in customers and keep them coming back:

  • Branding: Incorporate your brand's colors, logos, and themes into the interior and exterior design. While there are some limitations on cannabis packaging options, New Jersey provides more flexibility than many states.
  • Space: Ensure you have enough space to display products, accommodate customers, and provide a comfortable shopping experience. You don’t want your customers to feel crowded while exploring their options.
  • Customer Flow: Consider whether you want your dispensary to be more interactive, offering customers the chance to explore, or more efficient, focusing on quick transactions.

Recruitment for your New Jersey Dispensary

Having a skilled and knowledgeable team is crucial. Take the time to thoroughly screen applicants when recruiting, as your budtenders will be the face of your business.

Here are the roles you need to fill:

  • Budtenders
  • Security personnel (if you decide to have physical security)
  • Management staff
  • Back-office staff

You should also consider using an HCM platform like KayaPush, which offers comprehensive recruitment, HR, and payroll solutions for the cannabis industry. If you do have an automated payroll solution, then it is highly recommended to hire a cannabis-specific accountant.

A budtender is checking out a customer in a New Jersey cannabis dispensary.

Dispensary Promotion

Promotion is essential for the success of your dispensary. Like any other retail business, you will want to maximize your advertising dollars by doing market research and concentrating your efforts on what works best for your products and customers.

Generally speaking, you should include the following in your marketing strategy:

  • Use a mix of digital and traditional marketing channels, such as social media, SEO, print media, and radio.
  • Network at industry conferences and local events to make valuable connections.
  • Collaborate with other local brands to increase visibility and build a strong customer base.

In New Jersey, advertising can be shown where viewers or listeners can reasonably be expected to be above the age of 21, but this still leaves a lot of options on the table for your marketing campaigns.

Final Thoughts on Opening a New Jersey Dispensary in 2023

As you venture into the dynamic New Jersey cannabis industry, remember that the journey is as crucial as the destination. While the path might seem challenging, with the right tools and strategies, you can create a successful and profitable dispensary.

Consider leveraging platforms like KayaPush, which offers an all-in-one employee management software solution designed specifically for cannabis businesses. From HR to automated payroll, KayaPush is your best bud on this exciting new journey.

To learn more about opening a dispensary in New Jersey, download our free guide!

how to open a dispensary in new jersey

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April 2022


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