said they were outraged. In 2020, Illuminate signed a strict data agreement with the district requiring the company to safeguard student data and promptly notify district officials in the event of a data breach.

kept student data on the Amazon Web Services online storage system. Cybersecurity experts said many companies had inadvertently made their A.W.S. storage buckets easy for hackers to find — by naming databases after company platforms or products.

a spate of cyberattacks on both ed tech companies and public schools, education officials said it was time for Washington to intervene to protect students.

“Changes at the federal level are overdue and could have an immediate and nationwide impact,” said Mr. Styer, the New York City schools spokesman. Congress, for instance, could amend federal education privacy rules to impose data security requirements on school vendors, he said. That would enable federal agencies to levy fines on companies that failed to comply.

One agency has already cracked down — but not on behalf of students.

Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Pearson, a major provider of assessment software for schools, with misleading investors about a cyberattack in which the birth dates and email addresses of millions of students were stolen. Pearson agreed to pay $1 million to settle the charges.

Mr. Balderas, the attorney general, said he was infuriated that financial regulators had acted to protect investors in the Pearson case — even as privacy regulators failed to step up for schoolchildren who were victims of cybercrime.

“My concern is there will be bad actors who will exploit a public school setting, especially when they think that the technology protocols are not very robust,” Mr. Balderas said. “And I don’t know why Congress isn’t terrified yet.”

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As Offices Ease Covid Safety Measures, Workers Worry

Wall Street has been quick to shift its Covid-19 protocols after New York State dropped its indoor mask mandate last month. At JPMorgan Chase, masks are now voluntary for vaccinated and unvaccinated employees, and the firm will discontinue mandatory Covid testing as well as the reporting of Covid infections by April 4. At Morgan Stanley, where vaccines are required to enter the office, the mask requirement was dropped early last month.

Goldman Sachs dropped mask requirements on Feb. 14, though it still requires testing. Citigroup dropped its mask requirement last week. Wells Fargo has maintained more rigid Covid protocols than some of its finance peers, requiring unvaccinated employees to wear a mask at all times unless they are eating, drinking or alone in an enclosed room.

Other industries that have made a push for in-person work, such as real estate, have also reformulated their Covid guidelines in recent weeks. BlackRock, which has asked its 7,600 U.S. employees to return to the office at least three days a week, no longer requires masks in its U.S. offices, though employees have to be vaccinated to enter the building and are asked to test twice a week. Prologis, a logistics real estate firm, said its office mask guidelines were consistent with local regulations. Guardian Life Insurance, which has about 6,300 U.S. employees, does not have an in-office mask requirement in most areas of the country.

Still, some tech companies are holding firm on Covid safety protocols. Google requires any unvaccinated employees with approval to enter its offices to test regularly and wear a mask. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, requires anyone entering the office to be vaccinated — including with a booster starting March 28 — and follows local guidelines on masking.

Intuit announced on Wednesday that starting on May 16, its 11,500 U.S. employees would return to the office in a hybrid model, in which teams determine how many days per week workers should be in person. While the company requires anyone entering its offices to be vaccinated, it follows local and state guidelines on masking, meaning masks are not required in any of its U.S. offices.

“We’ve tried to stress that people should feel comfortable doing whatever feels best for them,” said Chris Glennon, Intuit’s vice president of global real estate and workplace. “We are seeing some folks masking, particularly in public areas, but by and large most are not masking.”

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Judge orders New York Times to return Project Veritas internal memos

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WASHINGTON, Dec 24 (Reuters) – A New York state judge on Friday ordered the New York Times to return internal documents to the conservative activist group Project Veritas, a restriction the newspaper said violates decades of First Amendment protections.

In an unusual written ruling, Justice Charles Wood of the Westchester County Supreme Court directed the New York Times to return to Project Veritas any physical copies of legal memos prepared by one of the group’s lawyers, and to destroy electronic versions.

Wood had entered a temporary order against the New York Times last month, drawing criticism from freedom of the press advocates. read more

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Project Veritas, led by James O’Keefe, has used what critics view as misleading tactics like secret audio recording to expose what it describes as liberal media bias. The group is the subject of a Justice Department probe into its possible role in the theft of a diary from President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley, pages of which were published on a right-wing website.

Project Veritas objected to a Nov. 11 Times article that drew from the legal memos and purported to reveal how the group worked with its lawyers to “gauge how far its deceptive reporting practices can go before running afoul of federal laws.”

Wood said in Friday’s ruling that the Project Veritas legal memos were not a matter of public concern and that the group has a right to keep them private that outweighs concerns about freedom of the press.

“Steadfast fidelity to, and vigilance in protecting First Amendment freedoms cannot be permitted to abrogate the fundamental protections of attorney-client privilege or the basic right to privacy,” Wood wrote.

A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, said the newspaper would appeal the ruling.

Sulzberger said the decision barred the Times from publishing newsworthy information that was obtained legally in the ordinary course of reporting.

“In addition to imposing this unconstitutional prior restraint, the judge has gone even further (and) ordered that we return this material, a ruling with no apparent precedent and one that could present obvious risks to exposing sources should it be allowed to stand,” Sulzberger said.

Libby Locke, a lawyer for Project Veritas, said in a statement that the New York Times’ behavior was “irregular,” and that the ruling affirms that view.

“The New York Times has long forgotten the meaning of the journalism it claims to espouse, and has instead become a vehicle for the prosecution of a partisan political agenda,” Locke said.

Project Veritas has been engaged in defamation litigation against the New York Times since last year, when the newspaper published a piece calling the group’s work “deceptive.”

The Times had not faced any prior restraint since 1971, when the Nixon administration unsuccessfully sought to block the publication of the Pentagon Papers detailing U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

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Reporting by Jan Wolfe;
Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Judge Upholds His Block on New York Times Coverage of Project Veritas

The leader of Project Veritas, Mr. O’Keefe, often uses surreptitious cameras and faked identities in videos that are meant to embarrass news outlets, Democratic officials, labor groups and liberals. In a statement on Friday about the judge’s ruling, Mr. O’Keefe wrote: “The Times is so blinded by its hatred of Project Veritas that everything it does results in a self-inflicted wound.”

In his new ruling, Justice Wood rejected the argument by The Times that the memos prepared by Project Veritas’s lawyer — which advised the conservative group on how to legally carry out deceptive reporting methods — were a matter of public concern.

“Undoubtedly, every media outlet believes that anything that it publishes is a matter of public concern,” the judge wrote. He added: “Our smartphones beep and buzz all day long with news flashes that supposedly reflect our browsing and clicking interests, and we can tune in or read the news outlet that gives us the stories and topics that we want to see. But some things are not fodder for public consideration and consumption.”

Justice Wood contended that his ruling did not amount to a restriction on the newspaper’s journalism.

“The Times is perfectly free to investigate, uncover, research, interview, photograph, record, report, publish, opine, expose or ignore whatever aspects of Project Veritas its editors in their sole discretion deem newsworthy, without utilizing Project Veritas’s attorney-client privileged memoranda,” the judge wrote.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who represents media outlets including CNN, said in an interview on Friday that the judge’s ruling was “way off base and dangerous.”

“It’s an egregious, unprecedented intrusion on news gathering and the news gathering process,” Mr. Boutrous said. “The special danger is it allows a party suing a news organization for defamation to then get a gag order against the news organization banning any additional reporting. It’s the ultimate chilling effect.”

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Covid Vaccines Produced in Africa Are Being Exported to Europe

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine was supposed to be one of Africa’s most important weapons against the coronavirus.

The New Jersey-based company agreed to sell enough of its inexpensive single-shot vaccine to eventually inoculate a third of the continent’s residents. And the vaccine would be produced in part by a South African manufacturer, raising hopes that those doses would quickly go to Africans.

That has not happened.

South Africa is still waiting to receive the overwhelming majority of the 31 million vaccine doses it ordered from Johnson & Johnson. It has administered only about two million Johnson & Johnson shots. That is a key reason that fewer than 7 percent of South Africans are fully vaccinated — and that the country was devastated by the Delta variant.

At the same time, Johnson & Johnson has been exporting millions of doses that were bottled and packaged in South Africa for distribution in Europe, according to executives at Johnson & Johnson and the South African manufacturer, Aspen Pharmacare, as well as South African government export records reviewed by The New York Times.

donated by the United States. But about four million of the country’s 60 million residents are fully vaccinated.

That left the population vulnerable when a third wave of cases crested over the country. At times in recent months, scores of Covid-19 patients at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg were waiting in the emergency department for a bed, and the hospital’s infrastructure struggled to sustain the huge volumes of oxygen being piped into patients’ lungs, said Dr. Jeremy Nel, an infectious-disease doctor there.

“The third wave, in terms of the amount of death we saw, was the most heartbreaking, because it was the most avoidable,” Dr. Nel said. “You see people by the dozens dying, all of whom are eligible for a vaccine and would’ve been among the first to get it.”

a United Nations-backed clearinghouse for vaccines that has fallen behind on deliveries. South Africa was slow to enter negotiations with manufacturers for its own doses. In January, a group of vaccine experts warned that the government’s “lack of foresight” could cause “the greatest man-made failure to protect the population since the AIDS pandemic.”

announced in November. Aspen’s facility in Gqeberha, on South Africa’s southern coast, was the first site in Africa to produce Covid vaccines. (Other companies subsequently announced plans to produce vaccines on the continent.)

South African officials hailed Aspen’s involvement as indispensable.

Aspen “belongs to us as South Africans, and it is making lifesaving vaccines,” South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said during a visit to Aspen’s plant in March. He said he had pushed Johnson & Johnson to prioritize the doses made there for Africans.

“I want them now,” Mr. Ramaphosa added. “I’ve come to fetch our vaccines.”

results of a clinical trial suggested that the vaccine from AstraZeneca offered little protection from mild or moderate infections caused by the Beta variant that was circulating in South Africa.

Weeks later, Johnson & Johnson and the government signed a contract for 11 million doses. South Africa ordered another 20 million doses in April. That would be enough to vaccinate about half the country.

South Africa agreed to pay $10 per dose for the 11 million shots, according to the contract. That was the same price that the United Statespaid and slightly more than the $8.50 that the European Commission agreed to pay. The South African contract prohibited the government from banning exports of the vaccine, citing the need for doses to “move freely across national borders.”

introduced export controls this year to conserve scarce supplies. India halted exports produced by the Serum Institute, which was supposed to be a major vaccine supplier to poor countries. In the United States, officials said they didn’t ban exports, but they didn’t need to. The combination of the extensive vaccine production on American soil and the high prices the U.S. government was willing to pay meant that companies made the delivery of shots for Americans a priority.

Other benefits for Johnson & Johnson were embedded in the South African contract.

While such contracts typically protect companies from lawsuits brought by individuals, this one shielded Johnson & Johnson from suits by a wider range of parties, including the government. It also imposed an unusually high burden on potential litigants to show that any injuries caused by the vaccine were the direct result of company representatives engaging in deliberate misconduct or failing to follow manufacturing best practices.

“The upshot is that you have moved almost all of the risk of something being wrong with the vaccine to the government,” said Sam Halabi, a health law expert at Georgetown University who reviewed sections of the South African contract at the request of The Times.

Mr. Halabi said the contract’s terms appeared more favorable to the pharmaceutical company than other Covid vaccine contracts he had seen. South African officials have said Pfizer, too, sought aggressive legal protections.

The contract said Johnson & Johnson would aim to deliver 2.8 million doses to South Africa by the end of June, another 4.1 million doses by the end of September and another 4.1 million doses by the end of December. (The government expects the 20 million additional doses to be delivered by the end of this year, Mr. Maja said.)

The company has so far fallen far short of those goals. As of the end of June, South Africa had received only about 1.5 million of the doses from its order. The small number of doses that have been delivered to the African Union were on schedule.

The difficulties in procuring doses have revealed the limits of fill-and-finish sites, which leave countries dependent on vaccines from places like the European Union or the United States, said Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who until March was co-chairman of South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid.

“Ultimately,” he said, “the solution to our problem has to be in making our own vaccines.”

Lynsey Chutel and Choe Sang-Hun contributed reporting.

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New York City’s Vaccine Passport Plan Renews Online Privacy Debate

When New York City announced on Tuesday that it would soon require people to show proof of at least one coronavirus vaccine shot to enter businesses, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the system was “simple — just show it and you’re in.”

Less simple was the privacy debate that the city reignited.

Vaccine passports, which show proof of vaccination, often in electronic form such as an app, are the bedrock of Mr. de Blasio’s plan. For months, these records — also known as health passes or digital health certificates — have been under discussion around the world as a tool to allow vaccinated people, who are less at risk from the virus, to gather safely. New York will be the first U.S. city to include these passes in a vaccine mandate, potentially setting off similar actions elsewhere.

But the mainstreaming of these credentials could also usher in an era of increased digital surveillance, privacy researchers said. That’s because vaccine passes may enable location tracking, even as there are few rules about how people’s digital vaccine data should be stored and how it can be shared. While existing privacy laws limit the sharing of information among medical providers, there is no such rule for when people upload their own data onto an app.

sends a person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server as soon as the user grants the software access to personal data.

passed a law limiting such use only to “serious” criminal investigations.

“One of the things that we don’t want is that we normalize surveillance in an emergency and we can’t get rid of it,” said Jon Callas, the director of technology projects at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.

While such incidents are not occurring in the United States, researchers said, they already see potential for overreach. Several pointed to New York City, where proof of vaccination requirements will start on Aug. 16 and be enforced starting on Sept. 13.

For proof, people can use their paper vaccination cards, the NYC Covid Safe app or another app, the Excelsior Pass. The Excelsior Pass was developed by IBM under an estimated $17 million contract with New York State.

To obtain the pass, people upload their personal information. Under the standard version of the pass, businesses and third parties see only whether the pass is valid, along with the person’s name and date of birth.

On Wednesday, the state announced the “Excelsior Pass Plus,” which displays not only whether an individual is vaccinated, but includes more information about when and where they got their shot. Businesses scanning the Pass Plus “may be able to save or store the information contained,” according to New York State.

Phase 2,” which could involve expanding the app’s use and adding more information like personal details and other health records that could be checked by businesses upon entry.

IBM has said that it uses blockchain technology and encryption to protect user data, but did not say how. The company and New York State did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. de Blasio told WNYC in April that he understands the privacy concerns around the Excelsior Pass, but thinks it will still “play an important role.”

For now, some states and cities are proceeding cautiously. More than a dozen states, including Arizona, Florida and Texas, have in recent months announced some type of ban on vaccine passports. The mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle have also said they were holding off on passport programs.

Some business groups and companies that have adopted vaccine passes said the privacy concerns were valid but addressable.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group, said it supported vaccine passes and was pushing the federal government to establish privacy standards. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which is helping its members work with Clear, said using the tools to ensure only vaccinated people entered stores was preferable to having businesses shut down again as virus cases climb.

“People’s privacy is valuable,” said Rodney Fong, the chamber’s president, but “when we’re talking about saving lives, the privacy piece becomes a little less important.”

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Stephen Colbert’s late-night show will resume filming soon before a vaccinated live audience.

Stephen Colbert’s late-night talk show will return to filming in front of a studio audience on June 14, CBS said on Monday.

About 400 audience members will be allowed in the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway in Manhattan, provided they can show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus, such as through the Excelsior Pass issued by New York State or an original physical vaccination card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There will be no capacity restrictions, and masks will be optional.

CBS said that staff and crew members will be tested for the virus before starting work and will be screened daily for symptoms, monitored by a Covid-19 compliance officer. The network said the plan comports with New York State guidelines.

The show’s changes will come just a few months before Broadway shows are expected to return, and about a month after baseball stadiums in New York began designating separate seating sections for people who have been vaccinated and those who have not.

relaxed the state’s capacity restrictions, allowing businesses to serve as many patrons as they like as long as there is enough space for people to adequately socially distance. He also ended the mask mandate for vaccinated people indoors and outdoors, though individual businesses are allowed to have stricter mask policies.

The pandemic put a stop to many late-night talk shows for a time in mid-March 2020, when New York and Los Angeles, where many of them are produced, introduced strict social distancing and quarantine guidelines.

Since then, the shows have had to get creative, interviewing guests by video conference and filming in empty studios or from the hosts’ homes, with family members sometimes serving on the crew.

When Mr. Colbert began doing his show from home, the first episode had him delivering the monologue from his bathtub. At the time, Mr. Colbert and the network changed the name from “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to “A Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” to reflect the show’s straitened circumstances. The name will return to normal once the audience returns.

impromptu reaction to the Jan. 6 Capitol assault.

During a recent interview on “Fresh Air,” Mr. Colbert said that working without an audience created challenges that only a crowd could ameliorate.

“I’m much more likely to mess up and have to retake something, lose the rhythm of a joke, or even just misread the prompter without an audience there, because there’s some vital performance adrenaline spark that’s missing that the audience provides,” Mr. Colbert said. “And so my wife and my kids have seen me absolutely shank monologues over and over again. And it’s very humbling for them to realize that I’m not that good at this.”

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The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on undocumented women in New York.

The nearly half a million undocumented immigrants who live in New York City were devastated by the pandemic, stricken by the virus and the economic fallout it caused and ineligible for stimulus checks and the unemployment benefits that kept many New Yorkers afloat.

Undocumented women were hit particularly hard, a recent estimate by the Fiscal Policy Institute found. Many had low-wage jobs in the service sector. Some were suddenly obligated to stay home with children when schools closed.

Roughly 35,000 undocumented women in New York City had too little food to eat this past March.

After months of demonstrations by groups that support immigrants, New York state lawmakers approved a budget that includes a $2.1 billion excluded-workers fund for people who are ineligible for other pandemic aid because they are undocumented. It is the largest package of its kind in the country.

The Times took a deep look at Isabel Galán, who lives in the South Bronx with her three children. In the year after the pandemic shut down the economy of one of the world’s richest and most expensive cities, Ms. Galán and her children have lived on $100 a week.

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Yes, Pot Is Legal. But It’s Also in Short Supply.

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In New York and New Jersey, the race is on to grow legal weed.

In Orange County, N.Y., there are plans to build a large cannabis cultivation and processing plant on the grounds of a defunct state prison.

About 25 miles south, over the border in New Jersey, an industrial complex once owned by the pharmaceutical giant Merck will be converted into an even bigger marijuana-growing hub.

In Winslow, N.J., about 30 miles outside Philadelphia, a new indoor cultivation complex just celebrated its first harvest.

The advent of legalized adult-use marijuana in New York and New Jersey is an entrepreneur’s dream, with some estimating that the potential market in the densely populated region will soar to more than $6 billion within five years.

medical marijuana market, the supply of dried cannabis flower, the most potent part of a female plant, has rarely met the demand, according to industry lobbyists and state officials. At the start of the pandemic, as demand exploded, it grew even more scarce, patients and business owners said.

The supply gap has narrowed as the statewide inventory of flower and products made from a plant’s extracted oils more than doubled between March of last year and this spring. Still, patients and owners say dispensaries often sell out of popular strains.

“There’s very little stock,” said Shaya Brodchandel, the chief executive of Harmony Foundation in Secaucus, N.J., and president of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association. “Almost no wholesale. As we harvest we’re putting it straight into retail.”

Harmony purchased the former Merck site in Lafayette, N.J., late last year and is awaiting permits to begin construction, Mr. Brodchandel said.

Oregon, which issued thousands of cultivation licenses after legalizing marijuana six years ago, has an overabundance of cannabis. But many of the other 16 states where nonmedical marijuana is now legal have faced supply constraints similar to those in New York and New Jersey as production slowly scaled up to meet demand.

“There’s always a dearth of flower in a new market,” said Greg Rochlin, chief executive of the Northeast division of TerrAscend, a cannabis company that operates in Canada and the United States and this month opened New Jersey’s 17th medical marijuana dispensary.

In New York, where the medical marijuana program is smaller and more restrictive than New Jersey’s, the menu of products includes oils, tinctures and finely ground flower suitable for vaping. But the sale of loose marijuana buds for smoking is prohibited, and only 150,000 of the state’s 13.5 million adults who are 21 or older are registered as patients.

With modest demand, there has been little incentive to boost supply. Until now.

Adult-use marijuana sales could begin within a year in New Jersey and in early 2023 in New York, industry experts predict.

Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, which was closed in 2011.

Citiva, a competitor, is also building a new production hub there. A cannabis testing lab and a CBD extract facility, urbanXtracts, are already there.

“We’re calling it a cannabis cluster,” said Michael Sweeton, Warwick’s town supervisor.

“It is the definition of irony,” he added about the reinvented role for a correctional facility that boomed during the war on drugs, imprisoning 750 men at a time and providing 450 jobs.

hemp farmers will play an important role in the effort to generate enough cannabis to satisfy what is quickly expected to become one of the country’s largest marijuana markets.

THC, is used to make CBD oil.

New York’s law also permits individuals to grow as many as six marijuana plants for personal use; New Jersey’s legislation does not allow so-called home grow.

In the coming months, both states are expected to issue regulations to govern the new industry. Each has framed legalization as a social justice imperative and has dedicated a large share of the anticipated tax revenue to communities of color disproportionately harmed by inequities in the criminal justice system.

Trying to balance the goal of building markets focused on social and racial equity against the inherent dominance of multistate corporations with early toeholds in the region will be crucial, officials in New York and New Jersey said.

“They should have that ability to help jump start the market,” Norman Birenbaum, New York’s director of cannabis programs, said about the 10 medical marijuana companies already licensed to operate in the state. But it should not come “at the expense of new entrants,” he said.

Jeff Brown, who runs New Jersey’s cannabis programs, said the market has room — and a crucial need — for newcomers.

The state’s current operators, he said, “are not by themselves going to be able to supply the personal-use market.”

court challenge, and some of the 12 current operators, Mr. Brown said, have been slow to take full advantage of their ability to expand.

This has resulted in caps on the amount of cannabis that can be sold to patients in a single visit. Lines to enter stores, intensified by Covid-19 regulations, are common.

“You can’t always find the strain that you may have found works best for your condition,” said Ken Wolski, a retired nurse who now leads the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, a nonprofit advocacy group. “And that’s a very frustrating thing for patients.”

expansion of a medical marijuana program that had languished under his predecessor, Chris Christie, a Republican.

price of flower in New Jersey hovers between $350 and $450 an ounce before discounts. In California, the average price of an ounce of premium marijuana was about $260, according to priceofweed.com, a frequently cited price directory.

“Popular products run out and prices are still higher than we’d like to see them,” Mr. Brown said. “The key to all that is more competition.”

Last month, Curaleaf, which operates a dispensary and two cultivation facilities in New Jersey, eliminated its half-ounce limit on sales of flower after a strong yield at its new indoor-grow facility in Winslow, said Patrik Jonsson, the company’s regional president responsible for seven Northeast states.

large cultivation facility in Boonton, N.J., operated by TerrAscend, put hundreds of plants into bundles of coconut coir in early 2021 to begin a four-month growing and drying process. Tiered platforms are now filled with rows of pale green and purple-hued plants.

TerrAscend’s new dispensary, in Maplewood, N.J., drew a line of customers within hours of opening earlier this month.

Stuart Zakim, one of the first people in line, talked to a cashier — the “budtender” — about alternatives to the product he originally requested but was told was not in stock.

“You’re not waiting in the dark for your dealer anymore,” said Mr. Zakim, a longtime medical marijuana patient. “You’re walking into a beautiful facility.”

“The supply issue,” he added, “is really the biggest issue.”

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Yes, Pot Is Legal. But It’s Also in Short Supply in NY and NJ

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In New York and New Jersey, the race is on to grow legal weed.

In Orange County, N.Y., there are plans to build a large cannabis cultivation and processing plant on the grounds of a defunct state prison.

About 25 miles south, over the border in New Jersey, an industrial complex once owned by the pharmaceutical giant Merck will be converted into an even bigger marijuana-growing hub.

In Winslow, N.J., about 30 miles outside Philadelphia, a new indoor cultivation complex just celebrated its first harvest.

The advent of legalized adult-use marijuana in New York and New Jersey is an entrepreneur’s dream, with some estimating that the potential market in the densely populated region will soar to more than $6 billion within five years.

medical marijuana market, the supply of dried cannabis flower, the most potent part of a female plant, has rarely met the demand, according to industry lobbyists and state officials. At the start of the pandemic, as demand exploded, it grew even more scarce, patients and business owners said.

The supply gap has narrowed as the statewide inventory of flower and products made from a plant’s extracted oils more than doubled between March of last year and this spring. Still, patients and owners say dispensaries often sell out of popular strains.

“There’s very little stock,” said Shaya Brodchandel, the chief executive of Harmony Foundation in Secaucus, N.J., and president of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association. “Almost no wholesale. As we harvest we’re putting it straight into retail.”

Harmony purchased the former Merck site in Lafayette, N.J., late last year and is awaiting permits to begin construction, Mr. Brodchandel said.

Oregon, which issued thousands of cultivation licenses after legalizing marijuana six years ago, has an overabundance of cannabis. But many of the other 16 states where nonmedical marijuana is now legal have faced supply constraints similar to those in New York and New Jersey as production slowly scaled up to meet demand.

“There’s always a dearth of flower in a new market,” said Greg Rochlin, chief executive of the Northeast division of TerrAscend, a cannabis company that operates in Canada and the United States and this month opened New Jersey’s 17th medical marijuana dispensary.

In New York, where the medical marijuana program is smaller and more restrictive than New Jersey’s, the menu of products includes oils, tinctures and finely ground flower suitable for vaping. But the sale of loose marijuana buds for smoking is prohibited, and only 150,000 of the state’s 13.5 million adults who are 21 or older are registered as patients.

With modest demand, there has been little incentive to boost supply. Until now.

Adult-use marijuana sales could begin within a year in New Jersey and in early 2023 in New York, industry experts predict.

Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, which was closed in 2011.

Citiva, a competitor, is also building a new production hub there. A cannabis testing lab and a CBD extract facility, urbanXtracts, are already there.

“We’re calling it a cannabis cluster,” said Michael Sweeton, Warwick’s town supervisor.

“It is the definition of irony,” he added about the reinvented role for a correctional facility that boomed during the war on drugs, imprisoning 750 men at a time and providing 450 jobs.

hemp farmers will play an important role in the effort to generate enough cannabis to satisfy what is quickly expected to become one of the country’s largest marijuana markets.

THC, is used to make CBD oil.

New York’s law also permits individuals to grow as many as six marijuana plants for personal use; New Jersey’s legislation does not allow so-called home grow.

In the coming months, both states are expected to issue regulations to govern the new industry. Each has framed legalization as a social justice imperative and has dedicated a large share of the anticipated tax revenue to communities of color disproportionately harmed by inequities in the criminal justice system.

Trying to balance the goal of building markets focused on social and racial equity against the inherent dominance of multistate corporations with early toeholds in the region will be crucial, officials in New York and New Jersey said.

“They should have that ability to help jump start the market,” Norman Birenbaum, New York’s director of cannabis programs, said about the 10 medical marijuana companies already licensed to operate in the state. But it should not come “at the expense of new entrants,” he said.

Jeff Brown, who runs New Jersey’s cannabis programs, said the market has room — and a crucial need — for newcomers.

The state’s current operators, he said, “are not by themselves going to be able to supply the personal-use market.”

court challenge, and some of the 12 current operators, Mr. Brown said, have been slow to take full advantage of their ability to expand.

This has resulted in caps on the amount of cannabis that can be sold to patients in a single visit. Lines to enter stores, intensified by Covid-19 regulations, are common.

“You can’t always find the strain that you may have found works best for your condition,” said Ken Wolski, a retired nurse who now leads the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, a nonprofit advocacy group. “And that’s a very frustrating thing for patients.”

expansion of a medical marijuana program that had languished under his predecessor, Chris Christie, a Republican.

price of flower in New Jersey hovers between $350 and $450 an ounce before discounts. In California, the average price of an ounce of premium marijuana was about $260, according to priceofweed.com, a frequently cited price directory.

“Popular products run out and prices are still higher than we’d like to see them,” Mr. Brown said. “The key to all that is more competition.”

Last month, Curaleaf, which operates a dispensary and two cultivation facilities in New Jersey, eliminated its half-ounce limit on sales of flower after a strong yield at its new indoor-grow facility in Winslow, said Patrik Jonsson, the company’s regional president responsible for seven Northeast states.

large cultivation facility in Boonton, N.J., operated by TerrAscend, put hundreds of plants into bundles of coconut coir in early 2021 to begin a four-month growing and drying process. Tiered platforms are now filled with rows of pale green and purple-hued plants.

TerrAscend’s new dispensary, in Maplewood, N.J., drew a line of customers within hours of opening earlier this month.

Stuart Zakim, one of the first people in line, talked to a cashier — the “budtender” — about alternatives to the product he originally requested but was told was not in stock.

“You’re not waiting in the dark for your dealer anymore,” said Mr. Zakim, a longtime medical marijuana patient. “You’re walking into a beautiful facility.”

“The supply issue,” he added, “is really the biggest issue.”

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