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Jersey City Pushes Revising Cannabis Ordinance, OKs More NJ Cannabis Companies

Jersey City pushed revising its cannabis ordinance again while Legacy to Lifted and Hamm & Chazz NJ cannabis companies secured approval from the Council and Cannabis Control Board (CCB).

They plan to cap the number at 48. It could have two to three times more NJ cannabis companies than the next most pro-cannabis city in New Jersey. If they allow those approved before the cap was imposed, which is likely according to senior officials, it will be closer to 70.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop acknowledged the CCB has approved many but doubted their ability to operate.

“I don’t think all of them open. I think, ultimately, it’s going to level off somewhere between 20 and 30, is our objective. We want the market to dictate who’s the successful ones and who’s the less successful ones based on who’s the best operator,” he explained.

“A lot of other municipalities put politics into it, putting artificial limits that were arbitrary. We said let the market decide, and I think everybody will be better off with that,” Fulop added.

He is running for Governor in 2025 to succeed the term-limited Governor Phil Murphy (D).

Public Comments on Jersey Cannabis During Council Meeting

At last week’s council meeting, Garden Greenz dispensary co-owner Brian Markey (a Heady NJ Patreon supporter, full disclosure) noted pending changes allowing 48 “which is completely and utterly ridiculous.”

He argued Newark is only allowing five dispensaries that are NJ cannabis companies in comparison.

“It’s not going to be good,” Markey said.

“By allowing so many dispensaries, there will be 48 licenses floating in the city,” he said.

Markey thought MSOs could secure the spots of those who fail.

He also noted a change in New Jersey cannabis law where companies can buy 35 percent of a minority-owned business to help with investment and other issues.

“In the end, the (the corporate Multi-State Operators) MSOs will own these small businesses,” Markey argued. “They smell blood in the water.”

“Please keep in mind the local community, people born and raised here. We may have gotten out of the gate later,” Meyon “Meme” Wiggins of Meme’s Danckk World said. “I don’t believe because we got out of the gate late, we shouldn’t be given the opportunity. I’m using my own money. Please don’t forget about us.”

“To succeed, you have to be one of the first outta the gate,” David Jefferson of the Leaf Joint dispensary argued. He noted some entrepreneurs started the race late in locations that were not ideal.

The Leaf Joint operates a smoke shop and has tabled at a few Hudson Democratic events.

Legacy to Lifted, Hamm & Chazz Dispensaries OKed

Edward Broderick spoke for his brother Chris, whose Legacy to Lifted dispensary was up for its resolution, the last stop of the local approval process.

“Legacy” in their name reflects their roots in the legacy underground or “black” market. “Lifted” is a synonym for getting high.

Chris Broderick is a serial entrepreneur, a Social Equity applicant, and a local born and raised in the city. The last two make him a Goldilocks applicant, the type many advocates want to see succeed.

Legacy to Lifted secured Planning Board approval in July.

“I’m excited to witness his journey,” Broderick said.

He asked them to support Legacy to Lifted. Broderick argued they would positively impact the community and educate people.

“My brother would like to speak,” he added.

“Don’t worry, your voice is heard,” Council President Joyce Watterman replied.

“Legacy to Lifted is going to be a great asset on the west side,” Curtis Clarke said.

He noted their work doing toy drives, community clean-ups, and helping kids.

“I’m just excited to see what he’ll do in the future,” Clarke added.

Christian Flores also supported Legacy to Lifted during public comment.

“We’ll create jobs, boost local jobs, and create prosperity,” he argued.

Flores said they would promote responsible cannabis consumption.

Bud Space Dispensary Issues

The proposed downtown NJ cannabis company dispensary Bud Space was set to be approved. But Ward E Councilman James Solomon was concerned about their lack of Memos Of Understanding (MOUs) with charities.

“We don’t have the physical contract,” Business Administrator John Metro said.

Thus, they were removed from the agenda.

The Jersey cannabis dispensaries Hamm & Chazz and Legacy to Lifted were approved 7-1-1, with Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano voting no and Watterman abstaining.

Her daughter secured council approval for her dispensary.

Jersey City Cannabis Control Board Reviews More Applications

Last night, the Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved its first cultivator, one dispensary, and carried three applications.

Voox Farms Inc., a cultivator, at 80 Harrison Street, was reviewed. They were tabled at the last meeting due to security issues.

Vice Chair Jose Cantarero said their security plan was approved by the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD), which now reviews them.

The Board didn’t have other concerns after reviewing them previously. Thus, the CCB approved them 3-0, with CCB Chair Brittani Bunney and Commissioner Courtney Sloane absent.

Most manufacturers and cultivators have avoided applying in Jersey City due to the high price of warehouse space.

Just Chillum Dispensary Approved

Just Chillum LLC at 821 Newark Ave. was next. They’re based in the India Square area of Journal Square.

Jeff Joseph of Jersey City is the sole owner. He grew up in Brooklyn as a first-generation Haitian American. Joseph currently works in the financial services industry.

A deal with the MSO Cookies fell through before they applied as Just Chillum.

Joseph explained they partnered with the New Jersey Re-entry Corporation. They also have sponsored a cannabis expungement clinic with attorney Michael Hoffman.

Just Chillum has an MOU with the Jersey City murals program where graffiti culprits do community service.

They also want to donate turkeys during Thanksgiving and work with a non-profit called Team Wilderness.

Joseph said Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano, the most anti-cannabis Jersey City Councilmember, nor local businesses objected to them when they met.

Marte-Dublin noted the city runs the mural program. She and Cantarero work for the City of Jersey City. This presented a conflict of interest.

Team Wilderness Executive Director Steven Cunningham explained a few cannabis companies had approached them. But they were flaky. He noted that Joseph was interested in their mentoring and tutoring in their after-school program that does weekend outdoor adventures.

Amy Huang spoke well of Joseph. The NJ cannabis company dispensary will be downstairs from her.

“He’s always been the person in our group giving us great advice,” she said.

Landlord Ahn Ko said four restaurants previously failed there. He noted Joseph lives in the building above the storefront.

Cantarero wanted to know how the meeting with Boggiano went.

“It went as well as it could go,” Joseph said.

He added he spoke to many nearby businesses that liked them filling the storefront.

The CCB approved Just Chillum 3-0.

Grass House Company Pushed

Grass House Company at 523 Tonnelle Ave was next. Cannabis Attorney Beau Huch said they were Social Equity applicants.

Chief Operating Officer and co-owner Michael Price was born and raised in Jersey City and lives in the Heights. He noted he was arrested for cannabis possession.

“I want to change the stigma…and I want to give people an opportunity to better themselves,” Price said. “To prove I’m more than my, my criminal record would display.”

CCB attorney Ron Mondello noted their landlord has five percent of the business.

“This is our rock-solid location. We don’t jump around,” Huch replied.

A cannabis company applicant would make a landlord an owner so they don’t renege on a deal.

Gus Hacham explained his dad is the landlord. He signed on his behalf.

Distance Problems of NJ Cannabis Companies

Mondello said the Kush Klub dispensary is less than 500 ft. from them. He said they have Council and NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) approval.

“You may have grave difficulty getting past the Planning Board,” Mondello explained.

“The pin went into the Map August 16th,” Jersey City Commerce Director Maynard Woodson noted regarding their council resolution.

“You may have to fight this in court,” Kaplowitz said.

“We can cross that bridge when that comes,” Hacham replied.

Out-of-State Owners

CEO and co-owner James Dirkmaat of Arizona said he had been friends with Price after meeting at a cannabis conference.

“Are you still a member of the bar in good standing? You said you had a conviction,” Kaplowitz said.

Dirkmaat admitted his law license was suspended in 2014 or 2015 for 90 days.

“What was the suspension for?” Mondello asked.

Dirkmaat said the client had financial and partnership issues.

“I Googled your name. It came up in a Denver Post article in 2013,” Kaplowitz said. “What was the outcome?

Dirkmaat claimed the-then anti-cannabis Colorado Attorney General got creative pursuing them, but charges were dropped.

Mondello said a partner tried to grow marijuana illegally in a house. Dirkmaat claimed he was exonerated.

“I want to hear more about your community impact,” Cantarero said.

Price said they would help Pershing Field and work and Monique Wilson’s non-profit Styles House helping foster kids aging out of the program.

Dirkmaat said he’d move to Jersey City if they were approved.

Hacham noted most cannabis companies who wanted to rent were from elsewhere. They liked that Price is a local.

Monique Wilson of the non-profit Styles House noted they have an agreement.

“How is he going to help?” Mondello asked.

“He will be volunteering and giving money,” Wilson replied.

She noted they have an MOU.

“I don’t see that,” Marte-Dublin said.

Huch handed them a copy.

Western Slope Neighborhood Association Vice President Patrick Ambrosi spoke in favor of Grass House Company.

“He wants to add to the community, not just do his own thing,” he explained.

Community Support Questions

“I would like to see the actual support from the community. We have so many approvals. That conversation has become a hot topic, particularly in that area,” Marte-Dublin explained.

“My concern is the distance. Whatever the outcome, it will be a lawsuit,” Kaplowitz said.

Woodson said they submitted their application in April prior to Kush Klub’s approval.

Commissioner Sonia Marte-Dublin proposed they carry it.

Cantarero said 11 locations already have council approval to be based in the Heights neighborhood in the north. Five more are in the process. Thus, strong community support is important.

The CCB carried them 3-0 to their October 16th meeting.

Culture of California Carried

Culture Jersey City Inc. at 71 Pollock Ave was next.

Mondello noted their conditional license from the CRC expired.

“We did apply for an extension,” Attorney Tom Leane said. “They simply asked us to fully re-apply.”

Devon Julian of California would be the CEO. He said they’re a Multi-State Operator (MSO) cannabis corporation in Ohio, Mississippi, and California. Julian claimed they were women-owned.

“This board always wants to hear from the majority owner,” Mondello said, noting her absence.

Julian claimed she had family issues and couldn’t appear.

Kaplowitz noted they needed site control but had a non-binding LOI.

“That is not considered site control. You have a signed lease?” he asked.

“I have to go take a look,” Leane said.

Kaplowitz added the majority owner should be present.

Leane noted the majority owner is also from California.

“The applicant has to be here,” Kaplowitz replied.

Marte-Dublin said they were also missing documents detailing their community outreach.

The CCB carried them 3-0 to November 13th.

They also reviewed A Higher Ground Dispensary, LLC at 107-111 West Side Ave. CCB Commissioner Jeff Kaplowitz said they had a Letter Of Intent (LOI) regarding their property that was non-binding. So the CCB carried it so they could get a formal agreement 3-0.

Kine Buds Jersey City, LLC, at 545 Newark Ave, was also on the agenda. Attorney Fruqan Mouzon said they needed more time to secure community support. They were carried 2-1, with Kaplowitz abstaining due to distance concerns.

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