NJ Cannabis News: CRC Approves 62 Licenses

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NJ Cannabis News

In the latest NJ Cannabis news, the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) approved 62 licenses and discussed progress in the market.

NJ Conditional Cannabis License Winners

NJ-CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown explained the process of license prioritization by category, a completeness assessment, and a score of points. They are further reviewed for Financial Service Agreements (FSAs) and Management Service Agreement (MSA) reviews, criminal background checks, and financial probity.

The winners included NJ Cannabis delivery, distribution, and wholesaling cannabis companies. Initially, only cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary licenses were being awarded.

“All 24 are recommended for approval,” he added.

The following were considered:

1 2780 Kylie Flower Genetics LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

2 6234 Puffed-Up LLC Delivery Microbusiness

3 6541 Mr. Pakalolo LLC Delivery Standard

4 6563 OTG Weed LLC Delivery Standard

5 6549 M&G Distribution L.L.C. Distributor Microbusiness

6 6547 ThePlantPharm Limited Liability Co. Distributor Standard

7 3311 MAGiQ Media LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

8 1657 CannaSense Dispensary Inc Retailer Microbusiness

9 6267 Purple Haze LLC Retailer Microbusiness

10 6101 Top of the Bridge LLC Retailer Microbusiness

11 6568 Top of the Pot Dispensary LLC Retailer Microbusiness

12 6229 Tree Breeze LLC Retailer Microbusiness

13 6041 B & B Cannabis LLC Retailer Standard

14 6040 Bud Bandit LLC Retailer Standard

15 6481 Green Torch LLC Retailer Standard

16 5735 Just Chillum LLC Retailer Standard

17 6507 Lazy Dazy Spot, LLC Retailer Standard

18 6572 RPI Partners LLC Retailer Standard

19 6471 Sensi Vybz LLC Retailer Standard

20 6482 Sweetspot NJ LLC Retailer Standard

21 1540 TGC New Jersey LLC Retailer Standard

22 6538 Alta Leaf LLC Wholesaler Standard

23 6548 M&G Distribution L.L.C. Wholesaler Standard

24 6546 ThePlantPharm Limited Liability Co. Wholesaler Standard

The NJCRC approved them 5-0, making the latest NJ cannabis news.

Brown noted at the last meeting they denied a couple licenses.

“We’re recommending the board takes back that denial,” he said.

Conditional License Denials Reconsidered and Approved

At the February NJCRC meeting, the following were denied:

  1. JNB Prime LLC Cultivator Standard
  2. JNB Prime LLC Manufacturer Standard
  3. JNB Prime LLC Retailer Standard
  4. High Buddy Manufacturer Standard
  5. Loddy Exotics Retailer Microbusiness
  6. Urth Company LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  7. Aspen Corner Office LLC Retailer Standard

Brown said they should be reconsidered since they paid the necessary fees. So the NJCRC approved them 5-0.

Conversion To Annual Cannabis License Winners

Twenty-four conditionals were up for a conversion to the annual license needed to open in the New Jersey cannabis market.

1 2952 Kusala Care LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

2 4683 Bear Built LLC Cultivator Standard

3 3199 Green Leaf Pharma NJ LLC Cultivator Standard

4 4217 Nimbus Farms, Inc. Cultivator Standard

5 4774 Savage Garden LLC Cultivator Standard

6 4159 Hearth Wellness LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

7 5024 West Orange Farms LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

8 4956 Bear Built LLC Manufacturer Standard

9 5212 North Lake Supply LLC Manufacturer Standard

10 4278 The Smiling Bud, LLC Manufacturer Standard

11 4432 Natures Motivation LLC Retailer Microbusiness

12 5193 Spot 23 LLC Retailer Microbusiness

13 3779 Sussex Pharms LLC Retailer Microbusiness

14 3303 The Library of New Jersey Inc. Retailer Microbusiness

15 3783 Bleachers Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

16 5219 Bless Wellness LLC Retailer Standard

17 5247 Boone Town Provisions LLC Retailer Standard

18 5454 Bud 2 Bloom LLC Retailer Standard

19 5134 Cannabis MD LLC Retailer Standard

20 5453 Flowerbomb Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

21 3493 Green Origin Solutions LLC Retailer Standard

22 3305 Jersey Passion LLC Retailer Standard

23 4534 MariJayne’s Touch LLC Retailer Standard

24 3227 Ruuted LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them 5-0.

Annual NJ Cannabis License Winners

Annual licenses are needed to open in the New Jersey cannabis market. The following companies won them today:

1 5100 Integrity One Alternative Care, a New Jersey LLC Cultivator Standard

2 5215 Nova Farms Woodbury LLC Cultivator Standard

3 4355 Trikhoma LLC Cultivator Standard

4 5293 Fresh Grow LLC Manufacturer Standard

5 3285 Prest Gunther Family Manufacturing LLC Manufacturer Standard

6 4303 Floro S Hackensack LLC Retailer Standard

7 5342 KushmartJersey LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them 4-0, with Commissioner Charles Barker abstaining.

NJ Medical to Adult-use Cannabis Sales Conversion Winners

The expanded ATC Certifications of readiness to begin adult-use cannabis sales from medical cannabis sales were then discussed. Brown noted they reviewed their ability to serve patients and their required plans to advance social equity.

  1. Roots Dispensary, LLC 4402 US Route 130, Willingboro
  2. Silver Leaf Wellness, LLC 1743 Route 27, Franklin Township

The NJCRC approved them both 4-0, with Barker abstaining in two separate votes.

Annual NJ Cannabis License Renewals

Brown explained they had several renewals of New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales licenses.

The following completed their first year of adult use sales. The number of locations was noted in the parenthesis. Vertically integrated companies were allowed 3 dispensary locations and a growing/manufacturing facility:

  1. Holistic Solutions (1)
  2. MPX NJ (3)
  3. Sweetspot (1)
  4. Valley Wellness (1)

The next group were in their second year of NJ New Jersey adult-use cannabis sales licenses:

  1. Acreage CCF New Jersey LLC (4) (a cannabis corporation that is a Multi-State Operator or MSO).
  2. Ascend New Jersey LLC (3) (an MSO).
  3. Columbia Care New Jersey (4) (an MSO).
  4. Curaleaf NJ II Inc.  (5) (an MSO).
  5. GTI New Jersey (Rise) (4) (an MSO).
  6. TerrAscend NJ (4) (an MSO).
  7. Verano NJ (4) (an MSO).

Brown explained their staff works hard to ensure compliance with regulations.

“They’re very hands-on,” he said. “They’re in compliance.”

Brown noted that they are now submitting quarterly social equity reports and working with their labor expert closely.

“There’s a couple incidences we’re tracking for sure,” he said about labor issues.

Brown explained they fine those that are not compliant.

The NJCRC approved the renewals 4-0 with Barker voting no.

NJ Cannabis License Progress Update

“New businesses continue to open. There now more than 100 cannabis dispensaries open,” Brown declared. “We’re starting to see new cultivators open up, new manufacturers open up.”

He said the market is going to get especially competitive this year.

They have approved 288 annual conversion licenses, 157 annual licenses, and 70 expanded medical cannabis Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs) for 515 New Jersey cannabis licenses. Of the 515, there are 219 New Jersey cannabis license holders operating.

Women-Owned Businesses in the New Jersey Cannabis Industry

Brown said they want to highlight many women-owned cannabis businesses during Women’s History Month of March.

Some Moms and Pop businesses put Mom as the owner to get priority in the licensing process while Pop or another man seems to be really in charge.

NJCRC Director of Diversity and Inclusion Wesley McWhite III had a slide on data on women’s ownership in the New Jersey cannabis industry. Most are retail dispensary owners.

NJ cannabis licenses NJ Cannabis News

He noted in contrast, nationally, the women’s ownership average is 16 percent in the cannabis industry across the state-legal markets.

“New Jersey can stand tall with 36 percent of our licenses being awarded to women,” McWhite declared.

He noted the plethora of women in the New Jersey cannabis industry.

Data on local ownership was not noted. Nor has it been noted in the past by the NJCRC.

There are women-owned MSOs from elsewhere in the New Jersey cannabis market.

Brown said the patients are down to 83,000, down from a high of 135,000 New Jersey medical cannabis patients. Digital medical cannabis patient ID cards have been rolled out to stop the decline.

“Hoping to see these numbers, ya know, go up eventually,” he added.

NJ Cannabis Prices Update

Brown then presented numbers on the 2023 New Jersey cannabis sales.

NJ cannabis licenses NJ Cannabis News

“We came in on just under $800 million total. Definitely the biggest year on record. We’re continuing to see growth in the market,” he declared.

NJ cannabis licenses NJ Cannabis News

Brown noted that 4/20 and 4/21 when the NJ adult-use cannabis market opened are celebrations that see a spike in sales. December also saw an uptick.

He added that they have had $2 billion in sales since 2018 when he took over the New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program under Governor Phil Murphy (D).

“New Jersey does have high prices. The good news is that we’re seeing uh a positive trend there as well,” Brown added.

New Jersey adult-use cannabis bud or flower continues to be the highest-selling category.

“We’re seeing prices for medicinal have dropped,” Brown argued.

His chart depicted a gradual decline in prices as more dispensaries have opened.

NJ cannabis licenses NJ Cannabis News

NJ Cannabis News on Licenses

“This is the 1st time I can say this. We are under $300 an ounce when it comes to uh the average price paid by patients for bud and flower,” he exclaimed. “There’s more work to be done there, sure. We’re going to see prices come down… as competition increases. A lot more work needs to be done. We do expect these prices to continue to decline.”

Brown noted the concern in other state markets that have a flood and oversupply of legal cannabis versus the great undersupply in New Jersey. It could hurt businesses should a flood ever come to our fairly dry shores.

“As businesses become operational, particularly on the supply side, you start to see prices come down,” he added.

McWhite added that they will hold clinics in Newark, Trenton, and Atlantic City to register more New Jersey medical cannabis patients.

He also said they are holding three more regional hearings on spending collected Social Excise fee revenue. They will all be virtual on March 26, 27th and 28th.

Addressing Expensive New Jersey Cannabis Prices

“Can existing operators do more to decrease prices? Especially for our patients?” Barker asked.

“Yes. We don’t regulate prices. We certainly report out on them. There’s certainly things businesses could look at. We’ve seen more discounts for sure, particularly for patients,” Brown said.

Regulating medical cannabis prices is not a bad idea.

“Can you elaborate on the discrepancy between the prices for products in New Jersey versus other states? Similar product but different prices? Is there anything we at the CRC can do about that?” Barker asked.

“We’ve had to dig out from the former administration and some of the constraints on the market that when I came in, there were five dispensaries. Only two of them carried edibles. There were 17,000 patients. Prices were high,” Brown argued.

He added it used to cost about $1,000 to maintain enrollment in that program.

New Jersey Cannabis Progress Made

“We’ve had to take a long route to get to where we are for certain reasons,” Brown argued.

He said they will continue monitoring prices and issuing licenses to create a competitive New Jersey cannabis market.

“The board did outline that taking a look at pricing was a top priority for this year,” NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou noted.

“I want to commend the 59 women operating in the industry right now. I understand the hurdles you had to overcome,” Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso said.

She noted she was also curious about New Jersey cannabis prices compared to other states.

Brown said Massachusetts adult-use cannabis prices started high and decreased.

Del Cid-Kosso wanted to continue working on the issue.

Vice Chair Sam Delgado noted the issues with high operating fees are reflected in the high retail prices.

“Municipalities can lower their prices on (license) renewals, and the State can lower their prices on (license) renewals,” he argued.

Brown replied he will talk to the industry more on the issue.

“I’d be happy to join you on a meeting with the industry,” Barker said.

“Is the rollout of digital ID cards going very well?” Houenou asked.

“We’re getting the process done. It’s going well,” Brown said.

Studying the NJCRC

Delgado noted the activity of their Audit Committee. He said they are studying their work and efficiency. There are thoughts about consolidation.

NJ Cannabis News

Some were angry last year at the NJCRC for leveling high fines and want it diminished.

Delgado added they are studying town impact. The report should be available next month.

Public Research University and Cannabis

“What is the process the audit committee is looking at to select a public research university?” Del Cid-Kosso asked.

Houenou said they will submit a Request For Proposals (RFA) for colleges to submit proposals that they’ll review and recommend.

“Has the audit committee identified a budget for that?” Del Cid-Kosso asked.

Delgado said Rutgers University, the NJ Institute of Technology (NJIT), Kean University, and Montclair State University qualify.  

Licensing Committee Activity

Houenou then explained their Permitting and Licensing Committee activities.

They recently granted 40 extensions to NJ conditional license holders among the many who are struggling to open or have given up.

Houenou noted the paperwork process. It needs to be submitted 15 days before the deadline. She added one of their priorities is to improve the licensing process.

They plan to hold hearings on the process and feature New Jersey cannabis license applicants.

Delegated Authority on FSAs and MSAS

Brown explained that they wanted to give their staff leeway while working on FSA and MSA issues.

“It’s a good path forward,” he said.

When FSAs and MSAs are submitted as part of applications, they’re reviewed and approved by the board.

They want to approve modifications of them separately.

When a terrible FSA or MSA is signed, minority and women owners on paper can become figureheads or puppets.

“I’m incredibly proud of our FSA, MSA regulations. They’ve really been the result uh of many years of work,” Brown declared.

The NJCRC itself raised the alarm on them at a webinar last year.

“New Jersey is a nationwide leader on our regulations to protect businesses from predatory lending practices. That will continue here,” he exclaimed.

Houenou commended him and noted the need to make their processes more efficient.

The NJCRC approved the motion on it 4-0 with Barker abstaining.

NJ Cannabis License Name Changes

Brown said Jersey Shore Ventures is becoming Neptune’s Garden. Rooted Evesham will become Quality Roots Evesham. Queen City Wellness will become Mindlift LLC. Glass World Consulting will become Tree House Co-Op Dispensary LLC.

The NJCRC approved the changes 4-0 with Barker abstaining.

Dispensary Location Changes

Organic Remedies dispensary wants to move from Clarksboro to Gloucester City. Both are in South Jersey.

Del Cid-Kosso wanted to know if they are operational.

“I will have to check. If they’re not, they’re probably getting close,” Brown said.

The NJCRC approved it 5-0.

Cannabis Testing Batch and Mold Issues

New Jersey medical cannabis patient and advocate Andrea Raible testified on changing cannabis testing batch size issues. The NCRC adopted guidance on it in 2022

“I have yeast and mold allergies. I’m also approximately 100 pounds,” she noted.

“It’s not a representative sample. This was a temporary measure you put in to boost the industry. Not as a safety practice. It’s time to make comments and changes for public health,” Raible argued.

She argued moldy cannabis sold in the market is harmful to patients.

After the public comment period, which saw others lament the difficulty in opening, Barker wanted to introduce a motion to decrease the testing batch sizes.

Houenou said they could talk about it at a future meeting.

Barker said they could address it right now.

“Many states use 10 pounds,” Barker noted.

Commissioner Krista Nash wanted Brown to explain the issue in detail.

Promise of Progress Soon

He said they needed to gather more testing data on whether or not it makes sense to reduce the batch size to spot more issues. He said the CRC staff has been discussing the issue. They are working on new guidance.

“We’re very close to issuing that,” Brown argued. “Less than a month, we’ll have something to share at least with stakeholders.”

“I definitely hear what the patients are saying. I need more information before we make a rushed policy decision here,” Del Cid-Kosso said.

“It is entirely too soon to rush to try to do this on a whim,” Houenou argued.

“This temporary guidance has been in place for years. We’ve have heard at this point exhaustedly from patients that’s it’s not working,” Barker replied.  

Thus, he felt it was the right time to address it.

“The people are crying to us,” Barker argued.

He said standards were based on Maryland a few years ago.

“We also heard from other stakeholders who took the opposite approach and actually encouraged increases to the testing batch size. Not to pick sides. I need more time,” Houenou replied.

Someone tried to interrupt while Houenou sought to quiet him.

“Submit any additional comments in writing to us,” she declared.

“I seconded this motion. However, hearing the encouraging news is this is near. I’m going to say no,” Nash said.

The motion failed 1-4, with Barker voting yes.

A man yelled at the end, “You guys have failed patients.”

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