For close to a year now, it's been legal in New Jersey for folks to walk into a retail establishment and purchase marijuana.

But there's still essentially nowhere for them to legally consume their product, except in their own home — if they have one that doesn't come with its own rules from a landlord.

"In some small ways, a social consumption lounge is a social equity issue — people who need their medicine or people who want to consume in a safe way can go there and partake of their product," Robert Mejia, a professor of cannabis studies at Stockton University, told attendees during a cannabis tourism webinar.

Consumption lounges are expected to open in New Jersey at some point in 2023. There's a lot of interest in opening lounges in Jersey City, and Mejia noted that the wheels are moving on two proposals for lounges in Atlantic City — one at the site of The Claridge Hotel, and another across from the way from Hard Rock.

Any lounges in New Jersey will have to follow some strict rules before and after doors open.

Screenshot from webinar, "Destination Cannabis: Evolving Cannabis Hospitality & Tourism for a Mainstream Audience", hosted by Stockton University
Screenshot from webinar, "Destination Cannabis: Evolving Cannabis Hospitality & Tourism for a Mainstream Audience", hosted by Stockton University

Under rules recently approved by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission, a lounge would need both CRC and municipal approval in order to open.

A lounge would have to be located on the same grounds as a dispensary, and sales of food and drink would be prohibited. Visitors would be able to enter with their own (legally purchased) product.

Susan Dupej, a cannabis hospitality and tourism researcher, said during the webinar that the presence of consumption lounges can be a "differentiator" for Atlantic City.

"Granted, that's a niche market, but it exists," Dupej said. "We're witnessing the unfolding of an industry."

Brian Applegarth, founder of the Cannabis Travel Association, suggested that consumption lounges will be "one of the most fascinating things to watch unfold over the next 20 years."

New Jersey sites may be missing out on some big opportunities, though, he said, given the regulations that must be followed in the state.

"We have destinations that are growing more mature with cannabis lounges and what that means," Applegarth told the webinar panel. "Don't leave that opportunity out, because that's a really important place to innovate as well."

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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