The New Jersey cannabis licensing program is broken up into three geographic regions, North, Central, and South. The central region includes Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union counties. This includes a large portion of the Jersey Shore, multiple major universities, the surrounding area near the Newark Airport, and many different entertainment venues including PNC Bank Arts Center. When you look at the potential demand from a significant portion of the Jersey Shoreline, Rutgers, Princeton, TCNJ, and the area close to Staten Island the central region could actually be as lucrative as the other two regions in the long term.
In the short-term New Jersey will become a major market for surrounding states like New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Expect the majority of this short-term demand to go to Northern and Southern regions. In the long term the central market will capture a sizable piece of overall seasonal business including colleges and summer vacation. The central region also borders a large portion of Pennsylvania and the Staten Island portion of New York state. Like other major markets out of state sales could generate sizable amounts of traffic even if the majority of customers are local residents.
New Jersey has a long-standing joke about Central Jersey, it doesn’t exist. There is no central Jersey according to my brother, and if you look at the map the central region defined by the state is divided not by geography but by county. The southern part of Ocean County is south of Burlington County which is in the southern license region of the state. If you analyze the North, Central, and Southern region you will notice the division of regions is organized by population and demand hubs. The central region is indicative of the states desire to give each region relatively equal footing compared to the north and south. In exchange for proximity to other states the central region gets a large piece of the shoreline and the majority of the major college campuses. In addition to Monmouth and Ocean Counties the central region has Mercer and Middlesex Counties which come with Rutgers, Princeton, and TCNJ in addition to other major demand hubs.
The central market is one of the most interesting because operators need to be prepared for rapid fluctuations in demand. Stores will need to be large and dynamic, ready to expand or shrink as seasonal sales patterns shift. Over time the Jersey Shore might become the most enticing, operators that are able to locate near the barrier islands will be able to capture a sizable piece of the seasonal tourism business. Staten Island will be interesting to watch as the central region is connected to New York State via the Outerbridge Crossing and Goethals Bridge. Elizabeth and Perth Amboy are both critical residential markets and short term bumps from NYC could help drive sustainability as regulators plan for price declines over time.
The central region has a few existing bans on cannabis businesses and sales. Some of these markets are focused on restrictions that prevent future licensing while other communities just want to avoid the growing pains of initial legalization. Cranbury in Middlesex County currently has a restriction on recreational sales which does not help the Breakwater Treatment Center. If you are familiar with NJ cannabis you know the reddit forums will not shut up about BW. This location is one of the last dispensaries in New Jersey that is still independent from an MSO. The Jersey Shore is interesting because while it is a party destination many communities along the shoreline and along the main land prohibit recreational sales. Towns in areas like Monmouth and Ocean counties that secure locations close to the summer surge will print money. Take a look at the communities in the central region that currently have cannabis bans. See if you can identify strong locations in these counties and post in the comments. Please let us know if you go to any of these schools or live in Staten Island and plan to travel west. Hunterdon, Mercer, and Union counties do not currently have any cannabis bans, please let us know if you live in a town with a cannabis ban in New Jersey.
Here is a list of every town in the central region that we know of with a cannabis ban. Please let us know in the comments if you live in one of these towns and if they have a strong cannabis culture. This information is sourced from NJ 101.5 article from October 13, 2020.
Cranbury – Population 4,012 a small town close to Princeton University and Mercer County park. This town is cut through by the NJ Turnpike I-95 and RT 130, home to major logistics facilities including properties connected to Amazon and Wayfair. There is plenty of room in the area for cultivation, distribution and storage however the town has a current ban in place for recreational production and sales. Not only does this situation prohibit existing operators from growing their business it also restricts increases in business activities that could generate jobs. Cranbury might be using this ordinance to create a reliable medical location in the middle of the state. The Cranbury location is well known for high quality product and appointment unavailability.
Jamesburg – Population 5,951 one of the smallest towns in the state Jamesburg is next to Monroe Township and close to Marlboro and Old Bridge.
Old Bridge – Population 65,898 one of the largest towns on the entire list. Along RT 18 and RT 9 Old Bridge is a large town near South Amboy and Marlboro. This town is home to now closed motorsports and concert venue raceway park which had a crowd of 107,000 people for a Grateful Dead concert in 1977.
Spotswood- Population 8,307 a small town right near East Brunswick and RT 18, Spotswood has some commercial areas that could potentially locate a dispensary business.
Colts Neck – Population 9,879 cut through by RT 18 this is an area close to Eatontown and the Shoreline. Close to the Garden State Parkway on the other side of the highway from the beach, I don’t expect this to have any impact on tourism as all beach goers are on the other side of the Garden State Parkway. This looks like a local area and might be motivated outside of the beach proximity.
Fair Haven – Population 5,820 a small town along the Navesink River next to Red Bank and Rumson. This area is a small residential town close to the shore and the main beaches in Monmouth County. Fair Haven will allow for medical sales.
Freehold – Population 34,735 one of the large towns in the county home to the Freehold Raceway Mall and large areas with commercial and residential property. RT 35 and RT 9 cut through this area and there are plenty of locations suitable for the cannabis industry. Freehold is a critical town that is missing out on a huge commercial opportunity for residents and a massive tax base that comes from sales and jobs. This includes the dispensaries and the additional businesses that would benefit from the growth in commerce.
Hazlet – Population 19,802 located near the Raritan Bay off the shoreline by a few miles. Hazlet is near Perth Amboy close to Staten Island. It is cut by the Garden State Parkway and RT 35. Hazlet is right next to Keansburg and Keansburg Amusement park.
Highlands – Population 4,769 a small town on the edge of the eastern most part of the state. This area is right near the beach and Sandy Hook, with the major ferry transport hub farther north in Atlantic Highlands.
Oceanport – Population 5,751 a small town near Long Branch and Eatontown, Oceanport is on the bay near Monmouth beach. This area will have plenty of demand from the surrounding areas but you will not find any legal products for sale any time soon.
Rumson – Population 6,776 a medium size wealthy town on the Navesink river right near Sea Bright. Rumson has a larger portion of water front property including waterfront restaurants and upscale private homes. Rumson is a well-known town, home to Governor Phil Murphy and other well known NJ residents.
Sea Girt – Population 1,771 one of the smallest towns in the state by area and population. Sea Girt is an unrealistic location for a dispensary especially if the residents in positions of power don’t want one. This is a good example where it doesn’t make much sense to allow a dispensary for many reasons including the lack of land, parking, and commercial space.
Shrewsbury – Population 4,088 close to Little Silver and Eatontown this is a small town near the shore that has a tiny population and area.
Wall – Population 25,705 one of the larger towns in Monmouth County with major shopping areas for the smaller beach communities closer to shore. Wall is a very large town and it would be one of the towns in the county I would expect to have local dispensaries.
West Long Branch – Population 7,909 small mainland town west of Long Branch near Eatontown and Oakhurst. Another shore community off the shoreline. Closer to the mainland but right near the beach, this area is another great town for a dispensary or consumption lounge.
Barnegat – Population 23,167 a medium sized horizontal town that stretches westward into the mainland. With just a little bit of Shoreline and the close proximity to Long Beach Island this makes a fair amount of sense for Barnegat.
Berkeley – Population 41,762 a large town right next to Toms River and Lacey Township, Berkeley makes up a large chunk of the main land near the barrier islands along the shore. Berkeley also makes up a large piece of the barrier island connected to Seaside Park and Seaside Heights. Given we have seen a lot of bans near or on the Shoreline this ban is not surprising.
Brick – Population 75,667 Brick is a large town with plenty of shore line along the bay. Brick has a large amount of commercial area including a Walmart Superstore, Target, and Costco. This is one of the largest and most commercial areas in the region and the county. It does not make much sense to place recreational manufacturing and sales bans on this community given the available real estate and proximity to so many small shoreline communities on the barrier islands. It would make sense to put multiple dispensaries in Brick and drive tourism sales in the central region. I assume this is a short-term ban and not a permanent ban, if Brick has a dispensary or consumption lounge in five years then this makes a lot of sense.
Lacey – Population 29,118 a large town with some bay side shoreline on the Barnegat Bay. Lacey is near Ocean and Toms River and a forest and beach community. Lacey has a large amount of wildlife and the Popcorn Park Zoo. With just a little research this town looks like a tourist destination for hikes and vacation day trips in addition to the beach. This town allows for medical sales.
Point Pleasant Beach – Population 4,542 a famous shore town next to the larger Point Pleasant, this town makes up the beach portion of the area along the Manasquan river. There is a large boardwalk area with rides, games and prizes, mini golf, bars and restaurants, hotels, and all kinds of summer/ beach related commercial business. This ban is not surprising and probably endorsed by the family friendly commercial businesses which look down on legal cannabis sales near their sources of income.
Seaside Heights – Population 2,906 another critical beach town on the jersey shore, like other towns with major boardwalks Seaside Heights has a large cluster of commercial activity. This area has been featured in hit shows and has one of the larger commercial areas including Point Pleasant and the commercial beachfront areas in Monmouth County.
Surf City – Population 1,192 a small beach town on the Long Beach Island barrier island north of the RT 72 bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Surf City and many of the other small beach side communities are true vacation communities with only a fraction of the potential summer population living in the region during the winter.
Bridgewater – Population 44,646 a very large town near Piscataway, Bound Brook, and New Brunswick, Bridgewater has a large shopping area including a major mall. This community is another critical market for cannabis operators from a sales perspective. I expect other surrounding communities will fill the void left from this ban.
Manville- Population 10,234 right near Bound Brook and Bridgewater, Manville is a small town near the Rutgers area on the edge of Somerset county and Middlesex County.
Read Part I 'North Jersey Towns Cannabis Industry Bans' at theblacklist.xyz/story
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