On my way back from the Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival in Kutztown, I made a beeline for Phillipsburg just across the Delaware River in New Jersey. The Apothecarium there is the first dispenary on the state's official list of locations. There are only 23.
I went to Phillipsburg to buy cannabis legally at The Apothecarium (they have another location in Maplewood). Sales began for adult or recreational use in the state on April 21.
Driving East on Rt. 22, I crossed a bridge that connects Easton in Pennslvania to Phillipsburg in New Jersey. You quickly note the cliffs in town and lots of old stonework. Traffic slowed to a crawl. Was it weed visitors coming over from PA?
I arrived at 1:30 pm. A line snaked up the hill on South Maine St. for the 2:30 opening. Patients could enter earlier.
I took some photos and walked up 160 steep steps for a better view. Then I headed back down and took my place on the canna-customer line. Employees came by with printed menus on clipboards. The choices were limited: five flower options ($65/eighths), four vape cartridges ($65/500mg) and one pre-roll pack ($70/seven). I checked off Grease Monkey, the only indica dominant flower and handed the board back. Our orders would be ready when we entered.
I chatted with a man on the line; it was his first visit as well. He told me Phillipsburg used to be company town run by Ingersoll-Rand. For nearly 100 years, it was the area's biggest employee before closing shop in 2000. Phillipsburg has a run-down look, but is hoping for an economic revival. "In recent years, businesses have begun to move to South Main Street, including the opening of the Apothecarium Dispensary - Phillipsburg, in November 2019 selling medical marijuana," Wikipeda notes.
The doors opened. At No. 63 on line, I was at the counter in less than 10 minutes. There were no jars of weed anywhere, just mini shopping bags filled with orders. Mine was easy. I paid $70 ($5 tax), thanked everyone and walked out. A local cop was standing there. I couldn't help but comment how things have changed, that I can now walk by an officer of the law with a bag filled with cannabis products and he can't stop me. In fact, the officer was equally happy for us. He said he never wanted to arrest anyone for pot (he never did because he's new on the force).
He further informed me it was legal to smoke in public in Phillipsburg. So I lit up some fresh 20% THC legal cannabis right there across from The Apothecarium (that's me with the pipe above).
The line subsided after a while, though there was a steady customer flow (mostly men 40 years and older). The novelty of going to the weed store will eventually wane unless prices are more reasonable. The illicit sellers will be waiting for customers to come back for better deals.
So it's on in New Jersey. I'm rooting for struggling towns like Phillipsburg to benefit from the new cannabis economy.