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Opening moves: Cannabis dispensaries are eager to demonstrate their capabilities amid early rush...

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By Brett Johnson(New Jersey) -

June 15, 2022

There are always the customers whose eyes light up while scanning the inside of a brightly lit, high-vaulted cannabis dispensary for the first time — the ones who didn’t know what to expect. That never gets old for Mike Conway of Ascend Wellness Holdings.

As for his business and the other six companies that kick-started recreational marijuana sales in New Jersey, they did know what to expect.

Conway, a regional vice president at Ascend Wellness Holdings, said his company had a playbook for the green-lighting of New Jersey’s adult-use market prepared already, from more hectic beginnings to cannabis sales, such as Illinois’ floodgate-opening Jan. 1, 2020, launch.

Verano, another of New Jersey’s initial batch of recreational cannabis retailers, was there, too.

“Our company is headquartered in Chicago, and the market launched on New Year’s Day,” said James Leventis, a Verano executive vice president. “It was this massive event, with massive lines. People were waiting since midnight in lines for stores to open at 8 a.m. Thousands of people were formed in these lines.”

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