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Newark Cannabis Advances Slowly as Wu-Tang Clan Member Makes Progress

A Wu-Tang Clan rapper made progress in opening a dispensary and lounge as the local operator of the Oregon chain Hashstoria as the Newark cannabis industry progresses slowly despite a difficult process.

The rapper Raekwon, “The Chef,” would be the main owner of the Oregon-based franchise Hashstoria at 799-805 Broad Street in the heart of downtown Newark.

Members of a nearby church initially protested the idea in March, which led the Newark Planning Board to reject them. But they reversed their decision this summer.

Raekwon and Hashstoria are planning for a large two-story store with 12 Point Of Sale (POS) cash registers and a lounge upstairs.

Raekwon, who was raised in Brooklyn, is partners with Hashstoria owner, film producer, and venture capitalist Jedd Canty of Maryland, civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers of South Carolina, and radio personality “Charlamagne tha God.”

Hashstoria does not have a license from the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) yet. They seem to seek an annual license once they get final local approval from the council. The annual New Jersey cannabis license process is simpler than the conditional path many took.

Their name refers to Astoria, Oregon, where they are based. A cannabis dispensary in Newark would be their fourth location. A few franchise ideas are going around New Jersey.

The NJ-CRC is still in the process of finalizing its regulations on New Jersey cannabis consumption lounges. No legal lounge can open before the rules are in effect.

NJ Cannabis Progresses Slowly

The first Newark cannabis dispensary to open was Urb’n dispensary. They are an underground legacy to legal cannabis company. Urb’n opened for medical cannabis sales in the spring and then converted to adult use cannabis sales. They were awarded a dispensary license during the 2019-2021 medical cannabis license round as NJ Pharma Canna. According to their Instagram page, Urb’n is an independent woman-owned dispensary. They held their Grand Opening to kick off adult use recreational cannabis sales on September 12th.

In July, the Newark City Council granted resolutions, the last step of the local approval process, to four New Jersey cannabis companies. They are:

  1. NJ Pharma Canna LLC (Urb’n), a dispensary
  2. Herbarium Dispensary LLC, a micro-business dispensary
  3. Smoking Classics LLC, a dispensary
  4. Halsey Farms LLC, a cultivator

Motherland Cannabis Co. made progress to open at 360 Broad Street by getting Planning Board approval in Newark in July. The site was formerly a restaurant. The owners are based in Weehawken in Hudson County. The NJ-CRC granted them a conditional dispensary license in June.

Like other New Jersey towns, Newark has smoke shops selling cannabis from California and Oregon out of corner stores with cops ignoring them. Some of them sell hemp-derived Delta 8 cannabis.

A legacy operators manufacturing hash conference was held there in downtown Newark recently.

The Newark Cannabis Licensing Process

The Newark City Council in 2021 passed an ordinance that would allow cannabis lounges and dispensaries. But Newark only allows five dispensaries, five cannabis growers, five cannabis manufacturers, three cannabis wholesalers, three cannabis distributors, and two lounges in the city.

The Newark cannabis law also says, “Not more than three (3) safety compliance establishments shall operate within the City.”

This isn’t a type of licensed class of cannabis company in New Jersey on the state level. Nor has it been seen in other New Jersey towns.

Private consultants provide those services.

The law also says, “Not more than five microbusinesses per Class can operate within the City.” Presumably, this would be on top of the 21 standard licensed companies and the three safety compliance companies allowed.

Thus, there has been a fierce race in Newark to get licensed, like in other New Jersey towns with varying levels of shadiness.

Many Newark Cannabis Legalization Roadblocks

The Newark cannabis license application process was not designed to be simple. There was only a short amount of time when applications were permitted after the portal opened in December 2021. The opening of it was not publicized.

Like other towns, New Jersey cannabis license applicants have to pay high fees just to apply, even if they are rejected, which is likely.

Rob Gill is the owner of a Smoke Shop by Newark Penn Station who wanted to convert it into a dispensary. But Newark set up a small Green Zone where cannabis companies are allowed. They must be 1,000 feet from a school or park. That makes it difficult since there is a tiny park nearby.

Cannabis attorney Rosemarie Moyeno Matos has a dispensary client that began applying in December 2021. They had site control, secured financing, and submitted an application. The applicant’s father is a local serial entrepreneur who helped.

However, they were waitlisted and ultimately denied.

The portal opened again last December, and they tried again.

“We’ve heard crickets since then,” Matos said. “I don’t even know what they’re doing. “

She noted there were almost 200 applicants who applied.

Brick City Newark

The Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has been pro-cannabis for some time. He is said to be running for Governor in 2025 along with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

Nicknamed “Brick City,” which might come from multiple origins, Newark definitely was impacted by the War on Drugs. It is the largest city in New Jersey. The Real Cannabis Entrepreneur Conference has held conferences by the Newark Liberty International Airport.

Newark has been the site of cannabis expungement clinics to help people clean their records.

Cannabis advocate and serial entrepreneur Josh Alb led a march against the War on Drugs in Newark in 2020.

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