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New Jersey dispensaries expect big turnout as recreational marijuana sales start next week

N.J. dispensaries gearing up for recreational marijuana sales 02:04

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. -- Adults in New Jersey will be able to buy marijuana legally beginning next week.

The state's regulatory body has issued licenses to seven medical marijuana companies, including 13 dispensaries. Some of those will start selling recreational pot to people over 21 on Thursday, and as CBS2's Nick Caloway reports, retailers and officials are expecting a big turnout.

The cannabis industry is growing in the Garden State.

"Prohibition 2.0 is ending," said Ben Kovler, founder of Green Thumb Industries.

Kovler called this a moment in American history. Two of Green Thumb's RISE medicinal dispensaries in Paterson and Bloomfield will also sell recreational weed. That means demand will be sky high.

"So there's a lot of work in making sure that the medical patients have adequate supply, that the store can handle the throughput, and that we're ready for day one surge and then continued product availability," Kovler said.

READ MORE: New Jersey to begin recreational marijuana sales on April 21

Dispensaries across the state are gearing up.

Curaleaf in Camden County is currently undergoing a facelift to prepare for more customers.

"We've added a number of point-of-sale stations, and we're working really closely with the local municipalities to ensure traffic flow and safety," said Matt Darin, with Curaleaf.

A huge turnout is also expected in Maplewood when the Apothecarium dispensary opens for adult use on Thursday.

"As a social justice advocate, I'm excited that this product has finally been decriminalized in New Jersey. It's long overdue and legalized," Maplewood Mayor Dean Dafis said.

But others say now is the time to intensify drug prevention efforts for young people.

READ MORE: New York, New Jersey take steps toward recreational marijuana sales

Nick DeMauro is a former Bergen County police detective and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence.

"We need to educate our children. Anyone under 21 needs to be educated to understand the consequences," he said.

New Jersey could become the largest recreational cannabis market on the East Coast, at least until sales begin in New York.

Two dispensaries in Paterson and Bloomfield will open their doors at 6 a.m. Thursday. They plan to entertain customers waiting in line with live music and a doughnut truck.

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