New Jersey isn't the only state looking to legalize marijuana. New York is trying to beat us to the punch.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on his Legislature to fast-track legislation so pot smoking can be approved by the beginning of April.

If New York winds up offering legal weed before New Jersey, some believe that could put the Garden State at a competitive disadvantage for collecting future tax revenue because shoppers will start going into New York to buy their stash.

But Scott Rudder, the president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, isn’t worried.

“It’s great to see other states coming online. This is a reality that needs to happen.”

He said it’s doubtful New York will wind up legalizing recreational cannabis before Jersey does, but if it happens it won’t mean Garden State residents will become New York pot customers.

“You’re not going to spend the toll and spend hours going back and forth between the two states. I think the industry here in New Jersey is primed for a market regardless of whatever goes on in New York,” he said.

“We’re going to go down to the dispensary that’s closest to us, that’s most competitive. We're not going to want to spend $20, $30, $40 just to go into New York City and spend an hour or two getting there and back.”

States that have legalized recreational marijuana are Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington Alaska. New Jersey is among 33 states with a medical marijuana program.

Rudder says some Garden State residents are tired of waiting for legal cannabis to be approved but legislative leaders and the governor are close to finalizing a deal.

“We’re very, very close. I think we have to get across the finish line. I know the staff discussions are going on right now, that’s extraordinarily encouraging.”

He said a lot of marijuana industry investors are standing by.

He said officials in New York are going to be facing the same questions and challenges that have bogged down the legal pot process in New Jersey for the past year, and it may take lawmakers in the Empire State just as long to ultimately work out a plan that’s acceptable to all sides.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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