High Holidays – Out in Jersey

Brandon Castro, owner of Brew Coffee Bar
Brandon Castro, owner of Brew Coffee Bar. Photo by Steven Russel.

From Health

“You’re really worried about this, aren’t you?” my friend and fellow Matawan businessman, Brandon Castro, owner of Brew Coffee Bar, asked me as he peered over his laptop at his shop one Sunday afternoon. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I’ve been anxious all my life. Holidays, family dinners, and busy schedules are the worst.

I never took any anti-anxiety drugs and, surprisingly, survived the ’60s and ’70s without turning to marijuana for help. When I heard that New Jersey was going to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, I thought I’d explore the experience of purchasing cannabis.

I think there may be many other equally inexperienced people in the state who feel the same way. Of course, my anxiety increases in situations like this, so I decided to familiarize myself and enlist the help of a friend before venturing into unfamiliar territory.

We looked online and found the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization (CREAMM) Act,” which “enables the legal sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for residents 21 and older. The newly passed New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission rules establish the recreational cannabis industry in the state.” You can find it at https://www.nj.gov/cannabis/adult-personal/.

Some things to keep in mind from the site:

  1. You can purchase recreational cannabis if you are a resident of New Jersey or a visitor aged 21 and over from any of the licensed cannabis dispensaries listed on the site.
  2. You can purchase up to the equivalent of 28.35 grams or 1 ounce of usable cannabis in each transaction.
  3. You must present government-issued ID to prove you are of legal age, but the store cannot make a copy of your ID or keep proof of your purchase.
  4. It is still illegal to transport cannabis across state lines.
  5. You may give up to 1 ounce of cannabis to another adult age 21 or older.
  6. Drunk driving laws apply to being under the influence of cannabis.

The site also contains information about safe and responsible consumption. We found links to help with the desired effects, such as a sense of well-being, increased appetite, and pain relief. While there aren’t many studies on these and side effects, information is available to help prevent feelings of confusion, paranoia, panic, increased blood pressure, delusions, nausea, or hallucinations. One should carefully investigate all possible interactions with other drugs or alcohol.

We found that the National Institutes of Health is also a great resource. You can get advice on the benefits and risks


This site left us these words:

“Take charge of your health – talk to your healthcare providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together you can make shared, informed decisions.”

With this encouragement in hand, we began my adventure. Brandon’s presence helped allay my feelings of fear and doubt as a 62-year-old rookie. He closed up shop and we drove down the Parkway to Zen Leaf in Neptune.

Brandon Castro holds the bag
Brandon Castro holds the bag. Photo by Steven Russel.

After speculating in the car for a rainy half hour about what would happen next, we entered the shop and were told that the council only allows them to sell medicines on Sundays. We should have checked their website. We assured ourselves that their store in Elizabeth would meet our needs and headed back on the Parkway for another hour. I expected long queues and an impatient staff, but what I found was a very welcoming, relaxed and helpful team, and no queues at all. A very accommodating woman behind the counter helped me pick out a pack of pomegranate gummies that would meet my needs.

When Brandon and I got back into my car, I tried to hide my purchase and the pretty Zen Leaf bag I was in. ‘You don’t have to. Just keep the bag sealed,” Brandon advised me. “Oh. Yeah. It’s legal, and, I mean, I have to have it at home,” I agreed as we both chuckled.

I am glad I did such research and wish I had done more. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next, but I have a tool that makes me feel comfortable in my arsenal of anxiety busters. I had what turned out to be a fun day with a friend, despite the concerns I had. There’s a lot more to learn about cannabis, but New Jersey and I are going to explore it together.

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