Blue Violets cannabis dispensary and its supporters protested during a Hoboken council meeting after a judge ruled against them in a lawsuit.
Political activists running against the established Hoboken Democrats have seized the opportunity to politicize the issue of cannabis. Elizabeth Urtecho, the leader of the group that launched the lawsuit, is running against 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen on the same ticket as the anti-cannabis 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino.
They were galvanized into action amidst the shady Story dispensary seeking to open despite mass opposition for months. It sought to impose itself in a bar and grill the locals called “sleepy.” They complained the Blue Violets dispensary was too close to a school.
Blue Violets dispensary, a microbusiness, is a victim of shifting Hoboken cannabis rules. They were changed after Fisher, Giattino, and Urtecho launched an anti-cannabis crusade after the Story controversy.
Attorney Max and nurse Lauren Thompson of nearby Weehawken in Hudson County launched a small business and invested a lot of their own money into the project. They’re a woman and minority-owned business with Lauren as the majority owner.
Blue Violets Dispensary has been seeking to organize the community by tabling to build support.
Advocating to Open an NJ Cannabis Dispensary
Max Thompson of Blue Violets noted they have likely heard they lost the lawsuit.
“For a day or so, it felt like a bad dream we could not wake up from. But our sadness quickly turned to anger,” he explained.
Thompson said they have reached hundreds in person and thousands online who support their opening.
“Something is here very broken,” he exclaimed.
Thompson noted they are eagerly appealing the judge’s decision against them.
“We’ve even had other lawyers reach out and offer their services pro bono,” he noted.
“We will not be silent about this because it is further evidence it is a systemic problem that needs to be fixed,” Thompson declared. “I do have faith that we can work together and fix it.”
He wants them to amend the Hoboken cannabis licensing process that would grandfather their approval and heightened operational requirements for dispensaries near schools. They are working on a draft proposal.
“We are urging all of you to please consider them, discuss them so we can go back to the Planning Board again,” Thompson said.
Blue Violets Dispensary Organizes Community
“With Hoboken’s election coming up, we plan to be very active in this conversation,” Blue Violets dispensary owner Lauren Thompson declared.
She said many falsely claim a dispensary is dangerous.
“There was never any study, science, or logic to support a complete ban of dispensaries within 600 feeet of schools,” Thompson exclaimed. “It is completely arbitrary.”
“We must prohibit minors from even seeing cannabis on the street, let alone entering the store and purchasing it. I have absolutely no incentive to sell cannabis to minors,” she added.
Regarding possible security concerns, Thompson said the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission has approved their security measures, calling them “above and beyond.”
She noted their many struggles as a small business owner.
“The application process shouldn’t discriminate against small businesses,” Thompson added.
She added they plan to fight the ruling but want to “figure it out together.”
Locals Come Out Against Hoboken Cannabis Rules
Do Good Donuts shop owner Emily Wirt said she consumes cannabis every day.
“This isn’t about marijuana or our children. This is a small business issue very near and dear to me. This is about sneaky ordinances passed last-minute… and politically motivated lawsuits,” she declared.
“Our world is literally on fire, and we’re still arguing about marijuana,” Wirt added. “The tired legal witch hunt that is being led off the back of the city’s asinine 600 ft ordinance is being led by someone who is lo and behold running for city council. And so, a small business ends up being political collateral.”
“These children are already addicted to nicotine vapes, which they can buy on nearly every block in this town,” she added.
Wirt praised the Thompsons as “the nicest couple.”
“They have played by the rules,” she noted.
“Story dispensary gets to open, and the mayor of Jersey City (Steve Fulop) and his wife, who have their sights set on the gold bar-filled government buildings, benefit from that deal. They can drop whatever dollar amount is required to suddenly quiet my ward two neighbors who had a lot to say,” Wirt argued.
She added that a bar recently opened with a smiling fish mascot that would appeal to children.
“We do not care if alcohol ruins our children, do we?” Wirt asked. “This isn’t Reagan’s America. For God’s sake, give us our weed. Do what you can to support Blue Violets’ efforts.”
Fighting for a Microbusiness
“The recent legal ruling against them is flawed. It does nothing to make our city safer,” Scott Zucker declared regarding Blue Violets. “They’re just two people. They’re not a large Multi-State Organization coming in to extract all the benefits out of our community.”
“They poured everything they had into this opportunity and basically had the rug pulled out from under them at the last minute,” he noted. “They followed every rule and hurdle the city has put in its way. This will have zero impact on preventing the use of cannabis in our community.”
Zucker said it would drive some to the underground market and deprive the city of a source of revenue.
Laura Matlin explained she went to LIM College’s cannabis program and was there on behalf of Blue Violets dispensary.
“We are a place where small businesses thrive. Businesses in the cannabis industry should be no different,” she argued about Hoboken.
“They’ve been collateral damages in frivolous lawsuits,” Matlin declared.
She said it goes against Hoboken values.
“There’s nonsensical logic behind this. We’re tripping over ourselves,” Matlin exclaimed.
“I’m also here in support of Blue Violets. They followed the rules to the best of their ability. It does not sound right,” Nancy Bevelacqua said.
She explained she did not initially like cannabis. But it has helped with sleeping more recently.
Bevelacqua said it was expensive for her to travel to Secaucus or Jersey City for cannabis.
“They seem random,” she said about school distance issues.
Bevelacqua called it wishful thinking and political posturing.
Cannabis Consumption Versus Excessive Drunkness
“Many other schools in Hoboken are just feet away from bars, liquor stores, and smoke shops. Obviously, there’s no ID checking,” she added.
Bevelacqua noted Santa Con and LepraCon in Hoboken turn disorderly due to excessive drinking.
“Hoboken’s children cannot help but be exposed to that behavior,” she argued.
“If youth want weed, they can easily get it from illicit buyers,” Bevelacqua added.
She noted they would diligently check IDs at Blue Violets dispensary.
“I can’t say that about the bars,” Bevelacqua exclaimed.
“I am here in support of Blue Violets,” Matha Figaro of ButACake explained. “Do the right thing and push them forward.”
She explained that she was an underground legacy operator serving thousands of residents of Hoboken before going legit. Figaro wants to be a Multi-State Operator (MSO). She already operates in Delaware and is planning operations in Maryland and New Jersey.
“I am always committing to upholding the highest standards of responsibility,” she said. “We ensure none of those packaging attracts or appeals to minors.”
“Hoboken stands to lose significantly. You are missing out on an incredible influx of dollars if you do not allow them into your municipality, Figaro argued.
She noted that Lauren Thompson, an Asian American, is the majority owner of Blue Violets.
“You’re telling everybody in the State of New Jersey that if you’re a woman or if you are a minority, you’re not welcome here,” Figaro declared. “Let us not miss out on this economic and social benefit.”
The Hoboken City Council did not comment on the situation when the public comment period was over.
Unfortunately, stories of small New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs failing to get town approval due to barriers to entry of red tape and politics have become very common.