More than 12,000 customers spent nearly $1.9 million on recreational cannabis last Thursday, the first day of legal sales to any adult in New Jersey, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission said Wednesday.

“We expected sales to be substantial and the data shows that the market is effectively serving both adult-use consumers and patients,” said Jeff Brown, executive director of the commission.

The total works out to an average of about $150 per shopper, which is higher than one industry leader was hoping for.

Curaleaf CEO Joe Bayern, who spent part of opening day last Thursday at the company’s store in Bellmawr, said then that average sales of $100 per customer would have been great.

The cannabis commission did not say how many ounces of marijuana recreational consumers purchased. The agency did not find “substantiated reports of supply problems for medicinal cannabis patients” who apparently stocked up the day before recreational sales started.

Last Wednesday, the day before recreational sales started, medical cannabis consumers purchased 5,400 ounces of cannabis products (338 pounds), compared with 7,500 ounces (469 pounds) in the five days after adult-use sales started.

On opening day, only 12 of the state’s 23 medical marijuana dispensaries were open for recreational sales. More are expected to follow.

The path to Thursday’s opening day started 17 months ago, when New Jersey voters opted to make recreational weed legal. Then, in February 2021, the state passed laws calling for the expungement of cannabis convictions and establishing a legal cannabis market. Some hoped that New Jersey would become a model for bringing people into the industry who were hurt by prohibition and who hailed from neighborhoods undermined by its enforcement.

It remains to be seen whether that will happen. The first companies out of the gate Thursday were large, multi-state cannabis companies that have already spent tens of millions of dollars building infrastructure to supply what they hope will be a $2 billion annual market in New Jersey.

Later this year, it is possible that a new group of stores licensed specifically to sell recreational cannabis will open.