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NJCRC OKs 52 Adult-Use Licenses at Executive Director’s Last Meeting

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) approved 52 adult-use licenses at the last meeting of Executive Director Jeff Brown.

He has been promoted to NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) Deputy Commissioner for Health Systems by Governor Phil Murphy (D).

Christopher Riggs, who went from NJCRC Chief Counsel to Deputy Executive Director, will be the new Executive Director.

There is no word on the new NJCRC Deputy Executive Director or Chief Counsel yet.

Reflecting on New Jersey Cannabis Progress

“The cannabis market would not be what it is today without Jeff’s work,” NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou declared. “Director Brown has sought to make every decision one that he believed was in the best interest of the agency and the industry.”

“Jeff and I agreed on 98 percent of things. That strong alignment allowed us to launch this new state agency with tremendous strength and vision,” Houenou said.

She explained Brown made sure the NJCRC and the New Jersey cannabis industry reflected the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“The results of his labors speak for themselves,” Houenou declared.

She noted there are now 53 medical cannabis dispensaries and free patient registration for patients.

“And a projected $1 billion in cannabis sales this year alone,” Houenou said. “Thank you, Jeff, for the blood, sweat, and tears. The industry and commission wouldn’t be what it is without you.”

“Thank you Jeff. God bless you and your family,” Commissioner Charles Barker said.

“You are one of the most knowledgeable people about cannabis. We were so fortunate to have you head up this agency. We couldn’t have done it without you,” Commissioner Krista Nash said.

“Thank you for the 6 years of your work in this space. We wouldn’t be here today in this mission without you,” Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso said by telephone.

“The cannabis market here owes you a great debt of gratitude for opening this market. It’s historical,” Vice Chair Sam Delgado said to applause.

“Thank you very much for the kind words,” Brown said.

NJ Conditional Cannabis License Winners

Brown broke down the different types of businesses and explained the New Jersey cannabis adult-use license prioritization process.

“The priority is verified,” he noted. “Those that are deemed complete are moved to scoring.”

They then move to financial management review, criminal background checks, probity, and Quality Control.

The following companies won conditional cannabis adult-use licenses.

Conditional licenses need to be converted to annual adult-use licenses so a company can open.

The following won:

1 Beleaf NJ Cultivator Microbusiness

2 7849 Flower Queen Cultivator Microbusiness

3 8089 Jersey Joints Cannabis, Inc. Cultivator Microbusiness

4 8415 Top Shelf NJ Cultivator Microbusiness

5 A-Z Supply Inc Cultivator Standard

6 Bold Spirit LLC Cultivator Standard

7 Green Zen Therapy, LLC Cultivator Standard

8 Notum New Jersey Inc Cultivator Standard

9 Flower Queen Delivery Microbusiness

10 Liberty City Weed Deliveries Delivery Microbusiness

11 Nibblers LLC Delivery Microbusiness

12 Moose Transit Company Inc. Distributor Standard

13 Beleaf NJ Manufacturer Microbusiness

14 Forty Eight Blocks LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

15 Genuine Grow LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

16 A-Z Supply Inc Manufacturer Standard

17 Bold Spirit LLC Manufacturer Standard

18 Green Zen Therapy, LLC Manufacturer Standard

19 Sweetes Sweets LLC Manufacturer Standard

20 EGH Wellness LLC Retailer Microbusiness

21 Flavors Wellness Farms Retailer Microbusiness

22 Larry’s Best Buds LLC Retailer Microbusiness

23 Loud House Retailer Microbusiness

24 Paper Planes Sky Company Retailer Microbusiness

25 ReflectionZen, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

26 Weed R Us Retailer Microbusiness

27 Apex Dispensaries, LLC Retailer Standard

28 Dank Dynasty Club LLC Retailer Standard

29 Edwards Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

30 Highly Elevated NJ LLC Retailer Standard

31 Jackson Universal Retailer Standard

32 Token Enterprises LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved the conditional license winners 5-0.

Conversion to Annual License Winners

Winning an annual license is necessary to open a New Jersey cannabis company.

Brown said the process was the same as that noted previously.

The following companies won:

1 Stockbox LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

2 Stockbox LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

3 Bliss New Jersey, Inc. Manufacturer Standard

4 Ginger Hale LLC Retailer Microbusiness

5 Got Your Six of New Jersey, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

6 Greener on Grove LLC Retailer Microbusiness

7 Plantopia LLC Retailer Microbusiness

8 Station 973 LLC Retailer Microbusiness

9 New Frontier Solutions LLC Retailer Standard

10 NJ Green Care Retailer Standard

11 One Smoke LLC Retailer Standard Annual License Applications

The NJCRC approved the conversion annual license winners 5-0.

Annual New Jersey Cannabis License Winners

The following companies won annual adult-use licenses need to open.

1 Roman Brothers Cannabis Inc. Cultivator Microbusiness

2 NJ Cured LLC Cultivator Standard

3 NJ Cured LLC Manufacturer Standard

4 Village Hoboken LLC Manufacturer Standard

5 Hempnotize New Jersey, LLC Retailer Standard

6 Somerset Green LLC Retailer Standard

7 The G Factory LLC Retailer Standard

8 Zentugo of Franklin Park LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved the licenses 5-0.

Expanded Alternative Treatment Center License

A medical cannabis Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) wanted to convert to include adult-use cannabis manufacturing as well.

  1. Brute’s Roots LLC 551 S. Egg Harbor Road, Winslow Twp

(Full disclosure Heady NJ has an ad deal with Brute’s Roots.)

“They have to show they have adequate supply, can continue to serve patients need, and have municipal approval,” Brown said.

The NJCRC approved it 5-0.

Annual NJ Cannabis License Renewals

He explained there were 5 annual license renewals on the agenda:

  1. NJ Leaf
  2. Mountain View Farmacy
  3. The Social Leaf
  4. Leaf Haus
  5. Kind Kush

“They’re all recommended for approval,” Brown said.

The NJCRC approved them 4-0-1, with Barker abstaining.

New Jersey Cannabis Progress Noted

Brown noted the discussion of values by Houenou describing their work.

“We’ve really succeeded in doing this. Starting this and getting this to where it was historical,” he declared.

Brown explained he became an NJDOH Assistant Commissioner for Medical Marijuana in 2018. There were only five medical cannabis dispensaries that were all vertically integrated to grow, make, and sell medical cannabis products. But only two had manufacturing operations. Edibles were not really allowed.

“All signs are pointing up for New Jersey’s cannabis market!” he declared. “Progress continues to be made with new businesses.”

Brown said more than 130 New Jersey cannabis dispensaries are open:

New Jersey cannabis adult-use licenses

They are opening faster than Heady NJ can cover in detail!

“There are more medical dispensaries now than there have ever been in history,” he noted.

Brown added it is the cheapest it has been to register to be a patient and the market has the most products it ever has.

“Medicinal continues to be a priority,” he argued. “Adult-Use continues to flourish and expand. I’m standing firm on my $1 billion prediction this year.”

New Jersey Adult-Use Licenses Update

Brown said 1891 applications overall had been approved. One hundred twenty-eight apps are under review in the Office of Licensing. Three hundred twelve applications have problems or cures, and the Compliance and Investigations Office is reviewing 136 applications.

The NJCRC has awarded 327 conditional conversions to annual licenses, 168 annual issues, and expansions to 75 ATCs from medical to include adult-use.

“In total, 245 operational licenses and permits have been issued in this market,” Brown noted.

“That’s 500 licenses, permits,” he added. “If they haven’t started operating, they’re pending final inspection and start serving.”

Technically, that’s 570 licenses. But every part of a vertically integrated company requires separate approval. So, an expanded ATC that has 3 dispensaries, a growing facility, and a manufacturing production counts as five licenses. So, 570 doesn’t equal 570 companies.

Medical Sales Keep Sagging While NJ Adult-Use Cannabis Sales Grow

Brown admitted patient enrollment has gone down to 77,700 from a high of more than 125,000 medical cannabis patients. However, there are still 2,000 to 3,000 patients enrolling every month. There are also 5,000 caregivers. There are 1500 medical practitioners engaged in medical cannabis.

He noted the booming sales so far this year by New Jersey cannabis dispensaries.

“That’s the 1st time we’ve eclipsed $200 million in a single quarter,” Brown explained. “4/20 itself was the busiest day on record for adult use cannabis sales in total for the state.”

He noted that 4/20 is a holiday in the cannabis community.

About $6 million worth of cannabis products were sold in the adult-use market on 4/20/2024. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, or Green Wednesday 2023, was the 2nd biggest day for sales. 4/20/2023 was the third-highest day of sales with $3 million.

“We nearly doubled what the market did last 4/20,” he noted.

“It’s also important to thank all the entrepreneurs and everybody who is part of the market, the advocates, everybody’s who’s fighting to, ya know, start a business or reform laws and regulations. We wouldn’t be here without everyone who has been a part of this process,” Brown declared.

NJCRC Future Priorities

Christopher Riggs explained the issues he wanted to focus on.

“Starting an agency and rolling out the adult-use cannabis market was no easy task. I want to thank you and the board… and hiring an awesome staff,” he declared. “We used to say we’re building this plane while we’re flying it. It’s built, it’s flying. This agency is set up for continued success.”

“I’m anxious to work on the clinical registrant rule option that’s a subset Alternative Treatment Center that requires these entities to do medical research,” Riggs said.

He argued it would help patient enrollment.

Riggs explained that NJCRC Director of Diversity and Inclusion Office Wesley McWhite III is working on a Social Equity recognition program.

“It will recognize a business for their social equity efforts in the cannabis space, highlighting from Impact Zones, hiring from Social Equity, working with Social Equity businesses, working with diversely owned businesses,” he said.

“We’ve been following Maryland’s testing guidance for quite some time. I am looking forward to utilizing the awesome research we had our staff do,” Riggs added.

Del Cid-Kosso said she was “looking forward to working on how we can brainstorm and improve our numbers” in terms of patient enrollment.

“We want to continue to prioritize patients,” she added.

Virtual NJCRC Licensing Issues Forum Next Week

Del Cid-Kosso noted they granted some conditional extensions in April.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to continue to see awardees require additional time,” she said.

Del Cid-Kosso added town politics and lack of money are preventing them from opening.

Without them, the companies are going belly up.

She noted next Thursday, May 16th, at noon, is their virtual forum on the New Jersey cannabis license application problems.

New Jersey cannabis adult-use licenses

“What were some of the challenges you faced? We are really eager to learn from you how you have gone through this process,” Del Cid-Kosso said.

She said they want to learn and tweak the process to improve it.

Del Cid-Kosso encouraged people to share information about the virtual meeting next week.

Despite great progress, a lot of businesspeople and advocates are very unhappy with the NJCRC over the licensing process.

Future NJCRC Reports

“There’s 2 annual reports today. The rest should be adopted post my departure,” Brown noted.

The 2018-219 Division of Medical Marijuana in the NJDOH was reviewed.

“In 2019, we saw the passage of the historical Jake Honig Medical Cannabis Act,” he noted.

Brown said it was one of his proudest moments.

“There was a limit on what patients could purchase every month. A key facet of Jake Honig’s law was that it was lifted for patients dealing with terminal diseases,” he explained emotionally. “Jake’s family were just remarkable people to take that tragedy they had and turn it into change. It was just an awesome experience.”

A more recent report on the NJCRC will soon be submitted to the Governor and legislature and then made public. Brown said the NJCRC would submit very detailed reports in the future on issues like diversity for example.

Houenou admitted they have to catch up on submitting reports.

The NJCRC adopted the report measure 4-0-1, with Barker abstaining.

Social Equity Excise Fee Recommendations

McWhite said Brown is a “rockstar” in national cannabis regulators meetings.

“They all want to hear what we’re doing in Jersey. Jersey stands tall… nationally,” he declared.

McWhite noted they held hearings on spending the Social Equity Excise fee generated by adult-use cannabis sales.

He explained after getting feedback they are in favor of expanding access to capital via grants or loans and technical experience.

People also want to fund GED and vocational programs and certifications, and other job training programs. They also want to fund supportive services like food assistance and helping the formerly jailed.

McWhite recommended the public lobby for the legislature to implement it.

“I would like to see the moneys go towards the communities that are, ya know, most- hardest hit. You really need to reach out to your legislator to advocate for that. You need to be heard,” Nash explained.

The NJCRC approved the report 4-1, with Barker voting no.

NJ Cannabis Company Name Changes

Brown said there were company name changes requested:

  1. Harmony Holdings of New Jersey LLC will be Illicit Gardens NJ LLC.
  2. Jane’s Joint will be Jane’s Boutique Dispensary LLC
  3. Perennial Group Corporation will be CREAM Retail Dispensary Corporation

Illicit is a small corporate Multi-State Operator (MSO) from Missouri.

Several MSOs like to add “NJ” to their local division’s title.

The NJCRC approved the changes 4-0-1, with Barker abstaining.

Ownership Changes

Brown said there are 3 ownership change requests.

  1. ABCO Garden State LLC is adding Grown Rogue Unlimited LLC as an owner.
  2. Sweet Leaves dispensary is changing its ownership structure.
  3. Happy Times Buds dispensary is adding a new owner.

“For any diversely owned businesses, the majority ownership must remain with the diversely owned business owner through the 24-month period of the business opening That’s very important for us here,” Nash said.

The NJCRC approved it 4-0-1, with Barker abstaining.

At the end of a brief public comment period that saw Edward “Lefty” Grimes complain about access, the NCJRC passed a measure to work on creating a mechanism so those participating virtually could participate.

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