CRC Announces 64 New Jersey Cannabis License Winners, TerrAscend Fined Again

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New Jersey cannabis license winners TerrAscend

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approved 64 New Jersey cannabis license winners and fined the corporate cannabis Multi-State Operator (MSO) TerrAscend again.

Conditional Cannabis License Winners

The winners of 27 conditional licenses were five cultivators, three manufacturers. one wholesaler, two distributors, and two delivery licenses.

A conditional license is a license on the way to being an annual. Most still need local approval and a location to secure the annual license needed to open.

“We have the first of our new classes,” NJ-CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown noted.

The limited portal to apply opened in September.

The following won:

  1.  2987 Inhale Industries Inc Cultivator Micro
  2.  2568 Premium Boyz NJ Cultivator Micro
  3.  4857 The Chandler Collection, Inc Cultivator Micro
  4.  4631 My Baby Buds LLC Cultivator Standard
  5.  3721 the lucky leaf llc Cultivator Standard
  6.  4518 Canna Cafe NJ LLC Manufacturer Standard
  7. 4375 Gotham Manufacturing NJ LLC Manufacturer Standard
  8.  5051 Sinsemilla Labs LLC Manufacturer Standard
  9.  5015 Elevate Holdings LLC Wholesaler Standard
  10.  4690 Dubs R Us Distributor Standard
  11.  5016 Elevate Holdings LLC Distributor Standard
  12.  4641 Cloud 99 Smoke Shop Retailer Micro
  13.  1787 Faith Brothers LLC Retailer Micro
  14.  3816 Hazlie Corri-Ahna Retailer Micro
  15.  4068 Leafy Ventures Dispensary LLC Retailer Micro
  16.  4908 Sprout Dispensary Retailer Micro
  17.  4458 Stoners Club LLC Retailer Micro
  18.  3794 Wellness Dispensary LLC Retailer Micro
  19.  4469 GreenLeaf Boutique LLC Retailer Standard
  20.  4830 MCNJ Group LLC Retailer Standard
  21.  4560 Mr. Greens Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard
  22.  4779 New Jersey Bound Inc. Retailer Standard
  23.  4164 Nice Dreamz Retailer Standard
  24.  4 3776 Premium Genetics Partners LLC Retailer Standard
  25.  5110 The Joint Spot, LLC Retailer Standard
  26.  2245 Venice Park Investment Group LLC Delivery Micro
  27.  4689 Cannahigh Transports LLC Delivery Standard

The approval passed 5-0.

New Jersey Cannabis Market Progress

Those with conditional licenses can apply to convert to the annual New Jersey cannabis license needed to open.

December’s conversions included four manufacturers and 16 dispensaries.

NJ-CRC Commissioner Charles Barker asked the staff to improve the number of conversion applications for companies owned by Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous businesspeople and businesses in communities most harmed by the War on Drugs.

“What is the timeline approximately for people who have submitted for a conversion? Assuming there’s no cures?” NJ-CRC Commissioner Krista Nash asked.

“It can be about six months. Most are in the 6-to-8-month range now… with some cures,” Brown said.

He explained company complexity and background check results are delaying the process.

Nine months is the maximum. Brown promoted the new classes approval as progress in general.

Conditional Conversion to Annual Winners

The following won conversion to an annual license from a conditional license:

1 2750 Burn Factory Inc Cultivator Standard

2 3032 Cannabilities LLC Cultivator Standard

3 3249 Heritage Cannabis Farms LLC Cultivator Standard

4 2904 Magic Garden Botanicals LLC Cultivator Standard

5 3731 Canna Caviar LLC Manufacturer Micro

6 2595 Max Extracts LLC Manufacturer Micro

7 3304 Cannabilities LLC Manufacturer Standard

8 2770 Integrity One Alternative Care Manufacturer Standard

9 3173 Bud It Up Retailer Micro

10 2953 Buddy’s Dispensary Retailer Micro

11 2989 Queen City Wellness Retailer Micro

12 3018 Timber 5 LLC Retailer Micro

13 2886 Altius NJ LLC Retailer Standard

14 3025 Curiosity Cannabis Retailer Standard

15 3000 Garden State Natural Green Inc Retailer Standard

16 2754 Greensky Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

17 3438 High Almighty LLC Retailer Standard

18 2949 High Rollers Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

19 3061 Kress Green Retailer Standard

20 2866 Natural Selections Dispensary Inc Retailer Standard

21 2724 Premo Cannabis Company LLC Retailer Standard

22 3363 Rooted of Evesham LLC Retailer Standard

23 2897 Sea & Leaf LLC Retailer Standard

24 2743 Twisted Hat Cannabis Retailer Standard

The CRC approved them 5-0.

Annual New Jersey Cannabis License Winners

Brown said two cultivators, three manufacturers, and four retailers are up for approval for the annual New Jersey cannabis license needed to open.

That included:

1 1323 Blu Elements Ventures LLC Cultivator Standard

2 3251 LoveGrow Company LLC Cultivator Standard

3 1324 Blu Elements Ventures LLC Manufacturer Standard

4 3240 Magic Garden Botanicals LLC Manufacturer Standard

5 3433 Mollitiam NJ, LLC Manufacturer Standard

6 3604 Happy Time Buds LLC Retailer Standard

7 2877 High Profile Lakehurst LLC Retailer Standard

8 2179 Kanabliss LLC Retailer Standard

9 3094 The Flower Garden Dispensary Retailer Standard

The CRC board approved them 5-0 to applause from the crowd.

Expanded ATC Certification

Three medical cannabis dispensaries wanted to be able to sell New Jersey adult use cannabis.

  • MPX in Pennsauken.
  • Monteverde in Red Bank.
  • Terrapin Investment Fund II in Hoboken.

Monteverde only opened on Monday.

Terrapin seems to be operating under the name “The Station Hoboken,” which violates the rules. They recently opened and have not returned Heady NJ’s request for an interview.

The NJ-CRC does not allow any Doing Business As (DBAs) to increase transparency.

“Please adhere to the… final agency decisions… to evidence your commitment to the patient population. We ask that you not take that lightly,” Barker said.

The NJ-CRC passed it 4-0-1, with Barker abstaining.

More Enforcement Action Against TerrAscend

Brown explained they tabled the TerrAscend violation in October.

But there was another incident where TerrAscend made a medical cannabis patient buy off the adult-use menu.

A New Jersey medical cannabis menu is supposed to have more items for sale at better prices.

Nash made a motion to impose sanctions.

“Could you clarify for your motion what penalty you would like to see imposed?” NJ-CRC Chair Dianna Houenou asked.

“It appears to be another repeat offense. A common occurrence with this particular operator,” Nash said.

Brown recommended they do not penalize them more than $10,000.

“They made a good faith effort to correct,” she said.

Brown noted they are monitoring them closely now.

Houenou moved to penalize them $20,000.

“I am happy to hear TA is doing better. The training documentation might not meet the standards,” she noted.

Houenou explained they imposed a $100,000 fine on them in September.

“I echo those sentiments,” Barker said.

“I’m going to follow the opinion of the staff and say no,” Vice Chair Sam Delgado said.

The NJ-CRC passed it 4-1, with Houenou, Barker, NJ-CRC Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso, and Nash voting yes and Delgado voting no.

Del Cid-Kosso participated remotely.

Attorney Lynn Gefen of TerrAscend claimed they take compliance seriously during the public comment period.

“TerrAscend intends to appeal,” she added.

Gefen claimed they’re “confused” at what happened.

She argued this is not a pattern but mere human error.

Denials of Conditional Applications

Brown said a few companies were approved to convert to an annual license. But they did not pay the fees. The applications have been pending for several months.

“They have received multiple notices they have to pay,” he added.

The following were listed:

  • Cedar Fairmount Health Cultivators.
  • Premium Growers.
  • Sweetspot New Jersey LLC.
  • ENV Growers.
  • Bloomeri LLC.
  • Avalon Extracts.
  • Hall Weed Wonderland.
  • Journal Square Dispensary.
  • BKVLG.
  • G Ma Bert Concepts.
  • Holistic Apothecary.
  • Eastern Green Dispensary.
  • Holistic Solutions.
  • Y & L JC LLC.
  • Millennium Cannabis.
  • Littlemore LLC.

“We want to clear out the licensing system,” Brown declared.

He said some expanded medical cannabis ATCs were on the list. But they don’t qualify for the further retail sites they applied for.

The NJ-CRC passed it 4-0-1, with Barker abstaining.

NJ Medical Cannabis Renewals

Several medical cannabis companies were up for renewal of their medical licenses:

  1. Acreage CCF.
  2. Ascend.
  3. Ayr Wellness (formerly Garden State Dispensary).
  4. BLOC (formerly Justice Grown).
  5. Breakwater.
  6. Columbia Care.
  7. Curaleaf
  8. GTI Rise.
  9. Harmony Dispensary.
  10. Hillview Med.
  11. MPX NJ.
  12. Sweet Spot
  13. TerrAscend
  14. Valley Wellness
  15. Verano NJ

There were also several that have been open for less than a year up for renewal:

  1. Aunt Mary’s.
  2. Brute’s Roots.
  3. Design 710.
  4. Downtown FLWR.
  5. Eastern Green Dispensary.
  6. Garden State Botanicals.
  7. Holistic Solutions.
  8. HoneyGrove South Corp.
  9. Monteverde.
  10. NJ Leaf.
  11. Restore NJ.
  12. RIPT.
  13. Sanctuary Cannabis.
  14. Silverleaf Wellness.
  15. Terrapin Investment Fund.
  16. Urb’n Dispensary.
  17. Yuma Way.

There were 32 medical permit renewals up for a vote in total.

“They are all recommended for approval,” Brown said. “There are very integrated entities on this list.”

“You cannot separate one of the facilities from the entity?” Nash asked.

“That’s correct. They’re entity-specific, not location-specific,” NJ-CRC Chief Counsel Christopher Riggs said.

Columbia Care’s Labor Problems

“I am seeking to deny that motion for approval for renewal,” Nash declared.

She only wanted them to approve 31, except for Columbia Care.

“It seems there are quite a few businesses that have not met the statutory requirements with respect to Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) as indicated in Jake Hoenig Act,” Houenou declared.

She quoted it saying, “The failure to enter a Collective Bargaining Agreement 200 days after opening shall result in the suspension of a permit.”

The company is not allowing their workers to form a labor union to secure wages and benefits.

Breaking the Law and Ignoring Labor Rights

“There are several businesses that might be in violation of that provision of the statute. The board has asked staff to assess conditions on the ground. The board may take action at a later date,” Houenou said.

Nash made a motion to deny Columbia Care’s renewal. But there was no second to deny. So, the motion failed.

“There were some concerns the board have in terms of the CBA and LPA (Labor Peace Agreement) conditions,” Del Cid-Kosso noted.

She said they wanted to gather more information and allow the licensee to provide more information.

Nash called Columbia Care a “sophisticated Multi-State Operator making millions of revenue here in New Jersey. I don’t believe they’re respecting their workers or their choosing to ignore the specific legislation that protects those workers.”

“The workers of Columbia Care voted to be represented by UFCW (labor union),” she added. “The applicant has not bargained in good faith with that union. It hasn’t even come to the table.”

“If an applicant steps on a New Jersey workers’ rights I will always vote no,” Nash exclaimed to applause from the crowd.

Balancing Workers’ Rights and NJ Medical Cannabis Patient Access

Brown said they recommended approving Columbia Care’s renewal.

“They serve 5,000 active patients, 8,000. I would urge the board to take that into consideration,” he explained.

“There seems to be a disconnect between the staff and the board. Help me understand what did you base your approval on,” Delgado said.

“Staff’s thorough review of the entity, the documentation submitted. I’m glad the board is considering with conditions. I think denial could create some extenuating circumstances for vulnerable individuals being served by Columbia Care,” Brown explained.

Delgado asked Riggs about the disconnect.

Riggs said they should go into Executive Session if he wanted legal advice to a murmur of laughter from the crowd.

“Businesses that choose not to abide by the rules of the road, they have to be held accountable,” Houenou declared. “I want to see documentation… about what is happening on the ground in these facilities. My vote is yes.”

The NJ-CRC passed Columbia’s Care’s renewal it 3-1-1 with Houenou, Nash, Del Cid-Kosso voting yes, Delgado voting no, and Barker abstaining.

New Jersey Adult Use Cannabis Market Progress

“Many approvals and openings have been occurring at a rapid pace now,” Brown said.

The NJ-CRC has granted 208 conversions to annuals, 142 annual licenses, and 68 expanded medical cannabis ATCs for a total of 418. Six hundred forty-eight are in the process of being approved.

“New Jersey’s markets continue to grow,” Brown declared. “Legal cannabis sales in New Jersey eclipsed 200 million in the 3rd quarter in 22023.”

“We continue to see medical sales go slightly down,” he admitted.

There is a 10 percent quarterly growth in the adult use New Jersey cannabis market. Also, there has been $543 million in New Jersey cannabis adult use sales this year so far.

More Revenue Being Generated

“We’re seeing more consumers come into the market and purchase legal cannabis,” Brown said. “The prices are coming down. We’ve seen prices on average go from $14 a gram to $12.50 a gram.”

The smallest amount of legal cannabis New Jersey dispensaries sell is an eighth of an ounce or 3.5 grams.

“As prices come down, more and more people are coming into the legal market and purchasing legal cannabis,” Brown declared.

“As adult use sales are available, we’re seeing the patient rolls come down,” he acknowledged.

The New Jersey medical cannabis program has gone from 125,000 patients at its peak to 93,000 medical cannabis patients.

There are now more than 70 New Jersey cannabis dispensaries in the adult use and medical cannabis markets.

“Since March 2023, there have been about 40 or 50 cannabis businesses open. Can staff please share how many are owned by Black, Indigenous, and Hispanics?” Barker asked.

Brown said they had such statistics in their quarterly report in September.

“We have not compiled a data report since then,” he explained. “When we report those numbers out again in January, we can look at those.”

“It is imperative we monitor if minorities are getting an equitable share,” Barker said.

“We were outpacing population for Blacks or Africans and Asian ownership, and we were not consistent with population for Hispanics or Latinos,” Brown admitted.

“Do you see a significant increase in craft or local awardees in 2024?” Barker asked.

“We don’t have a regulatory definition for craft cannabis,” he noted. “Cannabis connoisseurs are a discerning bunch. I would look to consumers to see if craft cannabis is taking hold in New Jersey.”

“My hope is we continue to see quality increase,” Brown added.

New Jersey Medical Cannabis Program Fees Reduced

He said in 2018 the Murphy Administration improved the existing medical marijuana program.

“We’ve looked for ways to do just that… help them access the medicine,” Brown explained.

They have progressively reduced the fees to become a New Jersey medical cannabis patient.

“Sales are improving. There’s more revenue coming in as far as fees,” he noted.

Thus, Brown explained that they can reduce the fees and maintain a comparable amount of money coming in.

They want to lower the registration fees to $10.

“That would take effect today at 5 pm. We’ll update all the fees if they’re approved,” Brown said. “We expect to roll out digital identification cards. We created a new… patient portal.”

It will now be a $10 fee for a physical card.

Other states where you can use a New Jersey medical cannabis card require a physical card.

“We hope this … helps them stay enrolled,” Brown said.

“The digital IDs, are they perpetual?” Delgado asked.

“They’ll still have to renew every two years,” Brown noted.

It passed the board.

Del Cid-Kosso noted listening to the horror stories of the medical cannabis patients and their parents.

“We still have a lot of work for us to ahead us to improve the medical program,” she added.

During the public comment period, New Jersey cannabis advocate Chris Goldstein of NORML noted the fees to get a doctor to approve a medical cannabis card are too high as well.

Ascend Dispensary Leaving Montclair

TheMSO Ascend wants to move from Montclair to Wharton in Morris County.

The Montclair location was the very first New Jersey cannabis dispensary to open in 2012. Ascend took it over in 2021.

Brown argued it will take some time to shift operations and they’ll notify patients.

“We are recommending this location change for approval,” he added.

“There is a 25-mile distance. The proposed location is in a whole different county. I do hope that these entities are having conversations with the employees ahead of time,” Del Cid-Kosso explained.

It passed 4-0, with Barker abstaining like he has on many other measures.

“I agree and echo Commissioner Del Cid-Kosso’s comments,” Houenou said.

Chair’s Report

“The NJ-CRC board will hold cannabis companies accountable when they don’t follow the rules,” Houenou declared. “We pushed the commission’s rules in place for a reason.”

She said this year, they quadrupled the medical cannabis market. In addition, many dispensaries have opened.

“We’ll continue building on our successes,” Houenou argued.

Also, the NJ-CRC is developing a written policy on compliance and enforcement to establish regulatory violations and to manage expectations of how issues are addressed.

“Transparency and accountability are vital to the success of the implementation of the commission’s rules,” she said.

Their goal is to create a cannabis industry that’s safe and with responsible operators.

“Please remember to answer every question fully and completely,” Houenou said regarding applications.

She added incomplete applications lead to delays. Many are unresponsive.

NJ Conditional License Extension Problems

Houenou said some of the top reasons businesses requested New Jersey cannabis license extensions were municipal delays, real estate, and money.

“176 (conditional) extension requests have been granted from October to November 2023 for a total of more than 800 extensions granted this year,” she said.

Houenou said that most conditional license winners cannot convert.

Del Cid-Kosso said to submit extension requests 15 days before the deadline. It gives the committee time to ask for more information.

Houenou noted Nash asked how many extension requests were from social equity license applicants.

“We did not have the ability to readily generate that number. It would require us to open up 800 extensions,” she said.

“We do have a breakdown of micro business versus standards and classification of license,” Houenou noted.

She explained that 41 percent are micro businesses, 58 percent are standard businesses, a quarter are for cultivators, 14 percent are manufacturers, and 70 percent are dispensaries.

Houenou noted some annual license winners are up for their last check before they are allowed to open.

“If you don’t feel you have enough time… please follow the process to request an extension,” she added.

Some conditional licenses will ultimately fail in the process or just give up.

New Jersey Cannabis Dispensary Name Changes

Six New Jersey cannabis license winners wanted to change their names Brown said.

Decades Dispensary will be Deka Cannabis LLC.

Elevated Essence will be Herbs Premium Dispensary.

Goldfinch Wellness will be The Green Pony Dispensary.

Lemon 22 LLC will be Lemon 22 Dispensary.

High Street Wellness LLC will be High Street Dispensary LLC.

Wellness for Sale will be Hashery LLC.

NJ Medical Cannabis Worker Issues

Riggs said prospective ATC medical cannabis employees are being denied approval to work in the industry due to their criminal history. The NJ-CRC voted to give them the ability to show they had been rehabilitated.

Del Cid-Kosso said she commended the workers for turning their lives around. Nash agreed with her.

The NJ-CRC passed the motion 5-0.

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