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Jersey City Cannabis Board OKs 3 NJ Pot Stores, New Spot for County Commissioner’s

The Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) on Monday approved three NJ pot stores or dispensaries and adjourned one after they had been previously pushed.

Sonia Marte-Dublin was first sworn in as a Commissioner to replace City Health and Human Services Director Stacey Flanagan. She serves as the City Recycling Director. Her husband is County Registrar Jeff Dublin.

County Commissioner’s Top of the Pot Dispensary

Top of the Pot Dispensary at 802 Garfield Ave was discussed. They were previously approved last December. Attorney Tom Leane noted Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker serves as the Vice President while Tuesday Cardwell is President.

Her husband pled guilty to taking $10,000 in bribes over 10 years ago.

Leane noted they were approved at a different location. He noted they had real estate problems.

Walker explained his non-profit, Team Walker helps youth and seniors. He wants to secure an endowment for the non-profit so it can continue.

Cardwell noted she works for the Jersey City Law Department.

“Can you elaborate on which community members you’ll work with?” Cantarero asked.

Walker said their profits will help his free non-profit, which pays teachers union wages. In addition, they help with food insecurity and encourage STEM education with the Liberty Science Center.

“Are there other non-profits you work with?” CCB attorney Ron Mondello asked.

He noted it was an issue with the previous applicant.

Walker said they’re also working with Angela Cares and BLESC to hold toy and turkey drives.

Leane noted they addressed previous security issues.

“What he’s done speaks for itself,” Uforia Dispensary owner Bashkim Spahi said during the public comment period.

“Those are pretty weighty comments considering he’s a competitor,” Mondello joked.

The CCB approved them 2-0-2. Bunney and Marte-Dublin abstained.

NJ Pot Store Art 440 Pushed Again

Art 440 Co., LLC / Art Dispensary at 669 Bergen Ave was first. They were tabled at the May CCB meeting. Their attorney Walter Nealy noted there were security plan issues. He said owner Anna Tolentino (a disbarred attorney) met with the Jersey City Police Department and developed a security plan.

CCB Chair Brittani Bunney noted the issue was their lack of a community impact plan.

“I walked the streets by myself. I went to several businesses,” Tolentino explained. “They signed it (the petition). I did not like walking these streets.”

“Walk us through your community impact plan,” Commissioner Courtney Sloane said.

“I’m a Jersey City native,” Tolentino said. “I want to be a part of helping the community and the business owners so we have a safe community. I am prepared to give back to the community.”

Ignorant or Indifferent to Community Benefits

“We asked all other applicants how they will give back to the community. We still haven’t heard that from you. What is your plan to give back to the community? We’re not looking for hypotheticals,” Bunney said.

“You said you would be helping financially. Have you set that plan in motion?”  Vice Chair Jose Cantarero asked.

“I have reached out to them,” Tolentino said. “I can have an expungement clinic.”

“What we’re asking for is a requirement,” Sloane said. “We need a road map.”

They were again adjourned to the next meeting by 3-0, with Marte-Dublin abstaining, so she could address the issue.

Commissioner Jeff Kaplowitz was absent.

The Number Spot Approved

The Number Spot, Inc at 539 Martin Luther King Drive was next. They were tabled at the June meeting. Attorney Nick Lewis noted they have updated their security plan too. He said owner Naima Terry wants to give back to the community.

They are a woman-owned business by Terry seeking a microbusiness license. She was raised in the city and currently lives in Newark.

Lewis said the building’s second floor will be devoted to community impact issues. He will hold expungement clinics there. Lewis noted they want to hire locals. He explained the property was passed down to her.

Terry said her parents struggled with drug addiction while her great-grandparents were entrepreneurs.

Ambitious Jersey City Cannabis Company

“It is my mission… to help this new generation produce leaders,” she said. “My goal is to be a Black Multi-State Operator.”

Developer Veronica Sutton will receive a portion of sales for community development.

“Thank you for choosing Ward F,” Cantarero said to applause.

Bunney noted she wants a cannabis consumption lounge.

“One license at a time,” Terry joked.

Sutton said Terry interned for her at the Urban League. She noted Terry was previously a fashion model. Sutton explained they want to educate seniors on the nuances of cannabis. They are also working with the Anti-Violence Coalition of Hudson County.

“This is what we’re looking for. Leave Jersey City better than you found it,” Bunney said to applause from the crowd.

Marte-Dublin spoke well of her as a local Black woman entrepreneur.

Terry noted she was a former Jersey City Council Aide as well.

Public Support from Upcoming State Senator

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), who won the June primary to be a State Senator and succeed Sandra Cunningham, spoke on her behalf as CEO of Angela Cares. She noted that the Number Spot would support their program “Don’t sell Grandma’s house.”

“This particular program will educate seniors to stay in their homes. This is an asset, and we can find programs in New Jersey to support them… and pull equity out. We can keep generational wealth here in Jersey City,” McKnight explained.

Jennifer Martin spoke on behalf of several gathered to support Terry.

“It’s just an example of the type of vibration she sets. We’re here to support you every step of the way,” she said to applause.

The CCB approved the Number Spot unanimously, 4-0.

As a local, Black woman entrepreneur Terry is near the Goldilocks ideal of who many in the New Jersey cannabis community want to see open their doors. Finding successful Goldilockses, though, is like unicorn hunting.

Capital Virtues Approved

Capital Virtues LLC NJ pot store at 154 Martin Luther King Drive was next. They were tabled at the June meeting. Attorney Esperanza Segarra explained Delilah Rose Scott is the owner.

They have a conditional license from the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

Segarra noted they also have a Memo of Understanding (MOU) with Angela Cares.

“For about seven or eight years Angela Cares has been giving out diapers to the community. We have a plethora of seniors who get Depends from us,” McKnight said. “They’re going to provide storage.”

Scott noted she met with noted Hispanic advocate Juan Cartagena of Latino Justice. She said they want him to teach Caribbean culture and the medical benefits of cannabis to the public. Scott explained she also wants to help felons get jobs in the cannabis industry. She noted she is Puerto Rican.

Levi Johnson of SCORES noted Scott was very passionate.

UFCW union leader Hugh Giordano endorsed their application for a legal NJ pot store.

“This is exactly what Social Equity should look like,” he argued.

Giordano explained they signed a Labor Peace Agreement (LPA), which means they would not interfere if their workers sought to unionize to secure benefits.

The CCB approved Capital Virtues LLC 3-0, with Marte-Dublin abstaining since she had not heard their application previously.

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