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NJCRC Announces 2019 Medical Cannabis Dispensary License Winners

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) announced 30 medical cannabis dispensary license winners from the 2019 Request for Applications (RFA).

Thus they ended a process that started 29 months ago.

“The price of cannabis is still high. The patients per dispensary is still high,” Executive Director Jeff Brown said. “We have an opportunity to get this program in line with what we need to see and what patients really need as far as access points.”

Fifteen dispensary licenses were supposed to be awarded. But Brown said they would award 30 instead.

The Central Jersey medical cannabis dispensary license winners are:

  1. Middle Valley Partners LLC
  2. Monmouth Wellness and Healing LLC
  3. McGraw Holdings New Jersey
  4. Monteverde NJ LLC
  5. Silver Leaf Wellness LLC
  6. Garden State Botanicals
  8. Sanctuary Medicinals
  9. Theory Wellness of NJ LLC
  10. Woah Flow

The North Jersey winners are:

  1. Community Wellness Center of NJ
  2. GR Vending
  3. Yuma Way NJ LLC
  4. Terrapin
  5. Oceanfront Holdings LLC
  6. 11th Colony Cannabis
  7. New Jersey PharmaCanna LLC
  8. 1st Choice Health and Wellness
  9. Nature’s Touch Med NJ LLC
  10. NJ Patients Care LLC

The South Jersey winners are:

  1. The Law Offices of Juliana Diaz LLC
  2. Eastern Green Inc. dba (Doing Business As) Starbuds
  3. Design 710
  4. NJ Kindness
  5. Restore NJ LLC
  6. Organic Remedies NJ LLC
  7. Honeygrove Corp
  8. Circe Therapeutics
  9. Life Compassion Center Dispensary
  10. Holistic Solutions LLC

Brown explained that of the three regions, Central Jersey has the greatest need for more dispensaries.

“Unlike in cultivation, location does matter,” he said.

Medical Cannabis Program Progress Report

Brown reported that there are currently an average of 5,187 patients per dispensary paying between $320 and $480 an ounce for medical cannabis. He believed there should be about 2,000 patients per dispensary.

Brown announced there are now 122,000 patients in the New Jersey cannabis medical program. Thus New Jersey should have 61 dispensaries, which correlates with a 2018 report he cited.

“One of the biggest issues we hear from patients… is that they often have to travel long distances to access their medication,” he said.

Brown noted that 109 applicants sought a medical cannabis dispensary license. Some disqualified applicants launched an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit that severely delayed the scoring process.

“They must operate in the medicinal market for a year before they operate in the adult-use market,” he said.

Checking Boxes

The medical cannabis dispensary license winners need to confirm site control and approval from the town’s government within 20 days. They must also confirm whether they are Women or Minority Owned.

Applicants were scored on a range of metrics, including their ability to meet overall health standards and history with regulatory compliance. Brown described a thorough reviewing process to confirm scores and ensure there were no errors. A selection committee of state employees who they said had no conflicting ties graded the applicants.

Brown noted the awards are provisional and do not guarantee the issuance of a permit.

CRC Commissioner Charles Barker abstained from approving the 2019 dispensary winners, so the resolution approving the winners passed 4-0.

He has consistently not voted with the rest of the CRC on key votes advancing the Commission’s work. Barker has given no explanation why.

With the 12 vertically integrated cannabis license holders since 2018, the ten cultivation and 4 vertically integrated license holders announced in October, and the 30 medical cannabis dispensary licenses announced, there are now 56 New Jersey cannabis license holders.

Certifying the 2019 Vertical and Cultivation License Winners

Brown noted that by November 12th, the 2019 winners announced in October had to submit proof of site control and local approval along with certification they were Women or Minority owned.

Brown said they all submitted site control and qualified as Women or Minority-owned. He said 12 Women-owned businesses and three Minority-owned businesses won the licenses. While there were 14 winners, one of the winners qualified for both.

Winning the license is conditional upon the submission of key information and the approval of the CRC. Applicants still need to comply with requirements like providing criminal history background checks and verification of applicant information after being awarded a license conditionally.

Review of 2021 and What’s Expected in 2022

CRC Chair Diana Houenou reviewed her yearly report and noted the Commission’s milestones. She said they accomplished a tremendous amount setting up the legal cannabis market and expanding the medical cannabis program.

Houenou noted the CRC launched on April 12th. Soon after, they adopted cannabis lab standards. They released the interim adult-use market regulations on August 19th.

“It was a big moment for the Commission. We got a 160-page set of regulations just four months after being set up,” she said.

While Houenou touted how the rules were released on time despite many doubting them, she did not mention they missed the deadline for the beginning of the acceptance of adult-use license applications, set to start December 15th. The adult-use legalization referendum implementation law called for the start 30 days after the rules were released.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount in getting our recreation industry and establishing a foundation for our recreational industry,” Houenou said.

“With the notice of application acceptance and guidance for expanded ATCs already out and published, we eagerly await and see what applications and certifications come to the Commission,” she said. “We at the CRC are very excited to these what comes through those doors.”

“We’re very excited to see um the Garden State begin to plant its roots and take shape here as we get our cannabis industry up and running,” Houenou added.

Future Plans

They expect to issue the licenses and adult-use sales to begin next year at some of the existing medical marijuana dispensaries.

“Our Commission is eyeballs deep in partnership agencies to serve our New Jersey and make sure New Jersey’s cannabis industry is one that embodies our values,” Houenou said.

She explained the CRC is collaborating with other New Jersey state agencies to provide technical assistance to applicants in the future to provide access to capital and build a robust cannabis workforce.

“We have been listening,” Houenou said, noting many individuals have brought up these issues at CRC meetings.

Houenou said they expect staff recommendations on the six 2018 applicants who won a lawsuit over the scoring process over the next few weeks by the end of the year.

Thus, they tabled a resolution on the recommendation.

Next year, Houenou said the CRC must adopt regulations that detail delivery, wholesale, and distribution licenses.

They would also like to update the medical cannabis regulations to mirror the adult-use regulations.

Some patient advocates are unhappy that certain provisions of the Jake Honig Act of 2019 that expanded the medical cannabis program like home delivery, have yet to begin.

Barker objected to the meeting schedule for 2022. The NJ CRC had largely scheduled them for 1 pm.

“Evening times should be established. Interested parties can’t make meetings at 1 pm. Nay,” he said.

Thus the CRC’s 2022 meeting schedule passed 4-1.

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