NJ-CRC NJ cannabis edibles Columbia Care TerrAscend

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC) approved 93 adult use licenses, proposed allowing more NJ cannabis edibles, and fined TerrAscend and Columbia Care.

NJ-CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown explained the approval process based on New Jersey cannabis license application prioritization.

“Only applications deemed complete… are moved forward to scoring. Only those scoring sufficiently high move forward,” he explained.

Brown noted their thorough review of paperwork, including Management Service Agreements (MSAs) and Financial Service Agreements (FSAs).

Conditional License Winners

The following companies won awards:

3530 Dank farms LLC Conditional Cultivator Micro

3367 Simply Pure Downtown Trenton LLC Conditional Cultivator Micro

3614 Stash House Cannabis Conditional Cultivator Micro

3414 Hazlie Corri-Ahna Conditional Manufacturer Micro

3262 Loddy Exotics Conditional Retailer Micro

3419 OPTIMUM ELEVATION Conditional Retailer Micro

3424 Sherbinskis Conditional Retailer Micro

2948 Zaza Dispensary, LLP Conditional Retailer Micro

3344 July’s Harvest LLC Conditional Cultivator Standard

3453 Pura NJ LLC Conditional Cultivator Standard

3439 Tiaplanta LLC Conditional Cultivator Standard

3487 California Honey Corp. Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3343 July’s Harvest LLC Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3044 Millstone Cure Room Conditional Retailer Standard

3848 Nurturing Leaves LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3441 Braided Organics LLC Conditional Cultivator Micro

3348 Global Grown, Inc. Conditional Cultivator Micro

2635 B3ST BUDS LLC Conditional Retailer Micro

3294 Medusa’s Den LLC Conditional Retailer Micro

3494 STOCKBOX LLC Conditional Retailer Micro

3257 Hizenbud Inc Conditional Cultivator Standard

3546 La Perla Project Conditional Cultivator Standard

2867 Mellow Pharms Conditional Cultivator Standard

1154 Pantheon Conditional Cultivator Standard

3060 Starlight Cannabis LLC Conditional Cultivator Standard

3319 3P Dispensary LLC Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3258 Hizenbud Inc Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3320 3P Dispensary LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

2984 Cannakingz L.L.C. Conditional Retailer Standard

3588 CANNA VIE Conditional Retailer Standard

3563 Elevation Cannabis Company LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3345 Jersey Shore Extracts LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3412 NJC LIZ LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

2920 South Beach Buzz LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3648 Star Leaf Dispensary LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3607 Toms River Greens LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3391 Warrior Weed LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

More Conditional NJ Cannabis License Winners

3429 WeedCraft, Inc. Conditional Retailer Standard

2405 colganation llc Conditional Retailer Micro

3559 Belvidere Farms NJ Conditional Cultivator Standard

3560 Belvidere Farms NJ Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3426 Hammerhead Manufacturing Company NJ LLC Conditional

3561 Suufi Cannabis Inc. Conditional Retailer Micro

3322 TUNEBLISS LLC Conditional Cultivator Micro

3448 Ganja Manja Conditional Cultivator Standard

3282 Luckys Leafs LLC Conditional Cultivator Standard

3585 Ganja Manja Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3284 Luckys Leafs LLC Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3532 Viridis MFG LLC Conditional Manufacturer Standard

3413 Cannabis Tavern LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

3283 Luckys Leafs LLC Conditional Retailer Standard

The NJ-CRC approved them 4-0 with Commissioner Maria Del Cid still on maternity leave.

NJ Conversion License Winners

Brown noted that many of those converting to annual licenses are Social Equity and diversely owned.

“There is one application I would like the board to consider separately. That is Cannabis Clubhouse,” Commissioner Krista Nash said.

The NJ-CRC approved considering it separately 3-1 with Vice Chair Sam Delgado voting no.

The NJ-CRC approved the following apps 4-0.

2958 Green Haven Industries Conversion Retailer Micro

2489 Island Vibez Conversion Retailer Micro

2884 JC Element LLC Conversion Retailer Micro

2935 Canna Method NJ LLC Conversion Cultivator Standard

2434 Denver Cole Farms New Jersey, LLC Conversion Cultivator Standard

2263 Green Thumb Growing Company Conversion Cultivator Standard

2933 Canna Method NJ LLC Conversion Manufacturer Standard

2858 Soul Harvest LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2902 A Perfect Bud LLC Conversion Retailer Micro

1938 Garden Greens, LLC Conversion Cultivator Standard

2911 CannPowerment Conversion Manufacturer Standard

2416 Garden Greens, LLC Conversion Manufacturer Standard

2908 Garden State of Mind LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2517 Higher Leaf LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2778 High Street Wellness LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2962 Plantabis Dispensary Conversion Retailer Standard

2723 Springfield Ave Dispensary LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2757 Sugar Leaves LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2859 The Weed Stalk LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2453 Woodbury Wellness LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

2719 Third Eye Farms LLC Conversion Cultivator Micro

2771 Elevated Herb LLC Conversion Retailer Standard

One Application Rejected Publicly

The Cannabis Clubhouse LLC Conversion Retailer Micro application was then debated.

Nash made a motion to reject it and let it be cured with board input. Barker seconded it.

“Every applicant must comply with the very clear rules. To allow a deviation upends the integrity of this process. That is unfair,” she said.

Nash said their statements were contradictory. Disclosure statements were electronically signed but did not come from the owner.

“Applicant admitted she had given permission for others to sign on her behalf because she was unavailable,” she said. “These examples are not allowed under law.”

Nash added they contradicted their explanations about the ownership of cannabis businesses.

“I have not been satisfied with the information the applicant came back with” NJ-CRC Chair Dianna Houenou said.

She agreed with Nash.

“There have been numerous…. questionable affidavits signed. By my count, at least 5,” Houenou declared.

A lot of players want to get into Jersey cannabis and hide their role pulling strings.

“If you’re not being truth in your application materials, what else are we going to find?” she asked rhetorically.

Houenou explained a denial is a final decision versus a rejection “cure” where applicants can fix the problem.

Thus, the NJ-CRC rejected the application 4-0.

Annual License Awards

Brown said all the New Jersey Cannabis annual license applications all followed the same approval process of being reviewed thoroughly by the NJ-CRC.

The following companies won:

2712 Novus Care LLC Annual Cultivator Micro

1076 LexiCann NJ, LLC Annual Cultivator Standard

1351 Resinate Bliss LLC Annual Cultivator Standard

2824 Skunkfoot Farms NJ LLC Annual Cultivator Standard

1024 LexiCann NJ, LLC Annual Manufacturer Standard

1350 Resinate Bliss LLC Annual Manufacturer Standard

2826 Skunkfoot Farms NJ LLC Annual Manufacturer Standard

2752 Envision Group Annual Retailer Standard

2671 Rocket Retail LLC Annual Retailer Standard

2692 The THC Shop LLC Annual Retailer Standard

2059 Floro Evesham LLC Annual Retailer Standard

1459 Iconic Wellness & Provisioning NJ LLC Annual Retailer Standard

2783 Alchemy Botanics Annual Retailer Standard

2740 BLKBRN LLC Annual Retailer Standard

1835 Glass World Consulting Annual Retailer Standard

The NJ-CRC approved them 4-0.

Expanded ATC License Applications

Brown explained the Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC) applications to sell adult use cannabis had been reviewed.

“All of them are recommended for approval,” he said.

Commissioner Charles Barker noted initially, they had to show their commitment to patients for a year before converting to medical and adult use cannabis. He wanted them to continue to be committed to medical cannabis patients.

The RIPT Expansion Retailer in Jersey City was approved 4-0.

The Brute’s Roots Expansion Cultivation in Winslow was approved 4-0.

The Downtown FLWR Expansion Retailer in Jersey City was approved 4-0.

The Yuma Way Expansion Retailer in Garfield was approved 4-0.

The Eastern Green Expansion Retailer in Voorhees was approved 4-0.

NJ Cannabis Edibles Expansion

Houenou explained they want to allow more NJ cannabis edibles into both the New Jersey adult use and medical cannabis markets.

Brown called it very exciting that they were going to allow more NJ cannabis edibles after many had noted their absence.

NJ-CRC Chief Counsel Christopher Riggs explained they would allow Chocolate, baked goods like cookies, butter, jams, and single-serve beverages like cans.

Unfortunately, beverages can only have 5mg of THC, the part of cannabis that gets you high, like other state-legal cannabis market edibles. However, it is very weak compared to many underground, legacy products.

The proposed NJ cannabis edibles rules are being published, and public commenting is allowed beginning October 16th  until December 15th.

The NJ-CRC approved the expansion of NJ cannabis edibles 4-0.

Regulatory Waivers for NJ Cannabis Edibles

Brown explained the formal NJ cannabis edibles approval process could take six months. But they want to expedite the process.

“These will enable us to approve some products. If approved today, we can start accepting submissions next week,” he said.

He proposed they waive manufacturing standards and ingredient restrictions.

“All products need to be submitted to the CRC… detailing how they were produced. I suspect we’ll get a notice out to the industry next week detailing steps,” Brown said. “This would enable us to approve more product submissions.”

“This is exactly what the market needs to go forward. So, thank you very much, Delgado said.

The NJ-CRC passed the waiver on processing and manufacturing 4-0.

Brown noted all products need to have warning labels and be contained in sealed packages.

Houenou said they need products to follow the rules.

“If needed, I am willing to come back to the table and modify it if our regulated businesses are holding up their end of the bargain,” she declared.

The NJ-CRC passed the ingredient waiver to expedite NJ cannabis edibles in the market 4-0.

The lack of NJ cannabis edibles in the market has been noted by many advocates who have consistently complained about the poor quality of products in the New Jersey cannabis industry.

Enforcement Action Against Violations

Brown explained that the first Notice of Violation (NOV) was given to TerrAscend for New Jersey medical cannabis patient access violations and Columbia Care for labor issues. Both are corporate cannabis Multi-State Operators (MSOs).

“We received complaints patients were told they need to purchase off the recreational menu,” Brown declared.

“They did submit a corrective action. There was a complaint received after that, but they largely corrected their mistake. It’s all relatively new. We don’t recommend going above the maximum penalty,” he added.

Brown said they’ve implemented their corrective action plan.

Houenou made a motion that they be fined $100,000 as a reflection of how highly they value New Jersey medical cannabis patients.

“Can you explain that?” Barker asked.

TerrAscend Cheats Medical Cannabis Patients

She said the NJ-CRC investigator found 5 violations at all three of TerrAscend’s dispensaries.

The report noted the violations were issued after complaints were submitted this past January.

“There still seems to be a rampant issue with TerrAscend New Jersey,” Houenou exclaimed. “TerrAscend was made aware of its failures in January through informal means.”

“TerrAscend’s staff failed to accommodate patients. TerrAscend’s problem is not an isolated event. This is clearly a rampant problem. TerrAscend did not produce training records it is required to maintain,” Houenou added.

She thought they were liable to keep doing it.

Houenou thought it reasonable that each violation would come with a $20,000 at five violations for $100,000.

“I do think the penalty should be increased. Thank you,” Barker said.

New Jersey Cannabis Market Issues and Fines

“This is extremely shocking to me of the amount you prescribed TerrAscend. I think it’s onerous. I think it’s going to send shock waves throughout the marketplace,” Delgado said.

Barker seconded her $100,000 fine motion.

“I support your decision. If it’s shocking, people need to take a look at this, and we are still prioritizing medicinal patients,” Nash said.

“I know I’m outvoted. The people that will lose their jobs are not the higher-ups but rather the folks in the field. I think there will be a disinvestment in the state with this fine we’re imposing. We have to look at all the entire industry here. And $100,000 is just onerous,” Delgado said. “I think this is a new industry. I think we’re being irresponsible in imposing this amount.”

Debate on NJ Cannabis Regulation Enforcement

He added, “I understand the medical patients. But I’ve never heard of a pharmacy being fined $100,000 for such an infraction. There’s going to be disinvestments.”

“I hear you, Vice Chair. Everything you said doesn’t have to happen. These are not new players. These players that have been in state after state after state,” Barker said. “They’re also not your average small business.”

He didn’t think TerrAscend had to fire anyone.

“I don’t know that this is an egregious fine compared to the business that they are. This could be the impetus to ensure New Jersey is one of the premiere cannabis industries,” Barker added.

“There are people that have already been hurt by the actions of TerrAscend. These patients were refused service as medical patients,” Houenou declared. “TerrAscend bears responsibility for their actions. They are required to prioritize patients.”

She noted their repeated failures after being criticized.

Delgado noted his brother was dying of cancer last year.

“I had to wait close for an hour for his medicine to come up. Man was yelling from pain. I never heard of the hospital getting fined $100,000 for that. And I’m sure that happens all the time,” he said.

“This is why it is so important we have labor protections,” Nash said.

The NJ-CRC passed it 3-1, with Delgado voting no.

Columbia Care’s Labor Violation

Brown said Columbia Care’s Labor Peace Agreement to be neutral if their workers want to join a union lapsed, but it was fixed. He didn’t recommend the full fine of $5,000.

“But it’s up to the Board,” he said.

Houenou noted the maximum fine was $50,000.

Brown said it was fixed three days after they were notified of the violation of noting having an LPA for 13 days.

“We need to place a high priority on Labor Peace Agreements (LPAs),” Nash said. “I believe they have been operating for a long time here in New Jersey.”

She wanted to impose the maximum fine of $50,000.

“There’s many ways for companies, doing business to cut back,” Delgado said. “They don’t have to invest in their operation knowing they’re going to receive these kinds of fines. Think about the future of this marketplace.”

“This marketplace in Jersey will not expand the way you think it’s going to expand,” he added.

Delgado noted the staff recommended a low fee.

“I am for a fair process,” he said. “They took corrective action.”

Houenou agreed they moved swiftly to correct the problem.

But she thought Nash made good points.

Brown said only adult use cannabis companies need to have LPAs.

Delgado motioned to table the violation. But there was no second, so it died. He then motioned to amend Nash’s motion of imposing a $50,000 fine to $1,000. But that failed too.

The NJ-CRC ultimately imposed the $50,000 fine 3-1, with Delgado voting no.

New Jersey Adult Use Cannabis License Renewals

Brown noted three companies were up for renewal of their annual New Jersey adult use cannabis licenses.

All are MSOs.

“All are recommended for approval,” he said.

The NJ-CRC approved Ascend’s Fort Lee retailer renewal, Ayr’s Woodbridge cultivation renewal, and Curaleaf’s Bordentown retailer renewal.

“We have an update on where prices change. We would still like prices to come down. But we are seeing action there,” Brown noted.

The price of an ounce of cannabis has gone down from $973 to $963 for adult use cannabis.

An ounce of medical cannabis went from $391 to $366 an ounce.

“It is consistently priced lower than adult use but it is still high. For new markets, this is good news,” Brown said.

He added the Massachusetts cannabis market had an ounce of cannabis at $400 versus $373 two years into their market.

Diversity in the New Jersey Cannabis Market

Brown explained Social Equity businesses represent 21 percent of annual awardees. Now 17.7 percent of awards went to Black owners and 21 percent went to Asian owners. Only 6.7 went to Hispanics which is usual for American businesses.

NJ-CRC NJ cannabis edibles Columbia Care TerrAscend

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Wesley McWhite III said that the states for the annual licenses are better than the state at large for diversely owned businesses. He explained they are making progress towards “setting up a market that looks like New Jersey.”

He then presented Social Equity stats.

“We’re seeing more Social Equity convert than come in as annuals,” McWhite explained. “We are reaching those most harmed by the war on drugs. This is just the beginning.”

He added that 20 of New Jersey’s 21 counties have towns that approved cannabis companies so far.

“We’re in constant contact with municipalities to lower those barriers… and supporting municipal leaders,” McWhite said.

He declared they are meeting all their benchmarks.

NJ-CRC NJ cannabis edibles Columbia Care TerrAscend

“I’m really proud and we’re doing everything we can to get those businesses operational,” McWhite said.

He showed the new businesses are much more diverse than the largely corporate MSO medical companies that expanded into the adult use market.

NJ-CRC NJ cannabis edibles Columbia Care TerrAscend

“Excellent work by the CRC staff in getting this granular level of data and turn into something digestible,” Houenou said.

“Great numbers and great progress,” Barker said.

However, he said jail stats are not ideal with many minorities jailed disproportionately to their size of the general population. Barker also thought the benchmarks were too low.

Houenou acknowledged the issue with minorities in jail.

“I’m very heartened by the numbers we’re seeing so far,” Houenou declared.

She noted many Social Equity businesses are advancing in the process to being part of the New Jersey cannabis market.

NJ-CRC Chair’s Remarks on Progress

“We are meeting our goals and our benchmarks,” Houenou said.

She noted the challenges of access to capital and finding a good location, which other businesses must also cope with, though to a lesser degree.

Houenou said they are prioritizing equity and diligent oversight.

“The CRC is the first agency to accomplish so much in such little time,” she declared.

Houenou said New Jersey cannabis participants should advocate to state lawmakers and local officials and help applicants.

“The Commission currently has a lot of inactive applications … because the bizes aren’t responding to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission staff when they are reaching out to fix deficiencies,” she noted.

Houenou said they’re on the road to be robust and inclusive. But they need to work with the private sector.

The private sector might not want to work with them.

Houenou explained people can read the rules on clinical registrants, where academic and research institutions can get into the market to study, can be commented on by the public until October 6th via the NJ-CRC website.

Applications opening for New Jersey Distribution, Wholesaler, and Delivery cannabis licenses will allow for more vertical integration, she added.

The portal is opening on September 27th at 9 am only for Social Equity applicants. On December 27th, only Diversely-owned companies can submit applications. On March 27th, all other applicants can submit. There will be a webinar next Thursday for information on the portal opening.

NJ Cannabis Company Name Changes

Brown noted that 5 companies wanted to change their name.

Treehouse Ventures- Doobiez.

AACTPRO- Greenhouse Lifestyles of New Jersey.

Liberty Flower Company- The Public Garden Inc.

Strictly CBD LLC- 1634 Funk LLC.

Garden State Born- Garden State Exotix LLC.

The NJ-CRC approved the name changes 4-0.

NJ Cannabis Dispensary Location Change

MPX wants to move to a larger facility in Atlantic City, which the NJ-CRC approved. The NJ-CRC approved it 3-0-1, with Commissioner Charles Barker abstaining.

Brown noted the 1st 12 ATCs for medical cannabis licensed are allowed to have up to two satellite locations. MPX wants one in Pennsauken in Camden County. The NJ-CRC approved 3-0-1, with Barker abstaining again.

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Dan Ulloa
Dan Ulloa is the Editor and Publisher of Heady NJ, with a background in politics, journalism, and a passion for the cannabis community. He curates and publishes news, events, and insights on the industry. Dan has been a leading voice in the New Jersey cannabis scene, educating and informing the public about this rapidly evolving industry. He ranked #35 on the INSIDER NJ Cannabis Power List out of 100 in 2022.