NJCRC Approves 36 New Jersey Cannabis Licenses

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New Jersey cannabis licenses NJCRC

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) approved 36 New Jersey cannabis licenses of different kinds and discussed increasing efficiency.

12 Conditional NJ Cannabis License Winners Approved

NJCRC Executive Director Jeff Brown explained their thorough review process, which takes months and includes reviewing the leadership of companies.

The 12 conditional winners included 2 cultivators, 1 manufacturer, 1 wholesaler, 1 distributor, 1 delivery company, and 6 dispensaries.

The following companies won:

1 5503 Garden St. Gas LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

2 4919 Simply Pure Trenton NJ Inc Cultivator Standard

3 6537 TerpTaxi LLC Delivery Standard

4 5533 YCE Wholesale & Logistics Distributor Standard

5 5791 Mudd Brothers Cannabis Company Manufacturer Standard

6 5887 Atlantic City Cannabis Retailer Microbusiness

7 3288 Epitome7 LLC Retailer Microbusiness

8 1382 Gas on the Go Vending Retailer Microbusiness

9 5709 Green Acres Dispensary LLC Retailer Microbusiness

10 6403 Green Paradise Therapy, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

11 3957 Emerald Apothecary, LLC Retailer Standard

12 5532 YCE Wholesale & Logistics Wholesaler Standard

The NJCRC approved them 5-0.

Conditional License Denials Due to Lack of Payment

Brown said some conditionals didn’t pay fees and were notified several times. But they did not pay them.

“All these businesses have been duly noticed,” he added.

“I do hope that these businesses resubmit and see the process through to becoming operational,” NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou said.

The following 7 license applications were denied:

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

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

20 NJ Conversion NJ Cannabis License Winners Awarded

Brown said the 20 conversions to the annual license needed to open included 3 cultivators, 6 manufacturers, and 11 retailers.

The following companies won:

1 3784 Shnicks Shnacks Cultivator Microbusiness

2 3335 Prolific Growhouse Manufacturer Microbusiness

3 3785 Shnicks Shnacks Manufacturer Microbusiness

4 3432 Topless Pre Rolls LLC Manufacturer Standard

5 3033 420 Organics LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

6 4398 Aeterna LLC Cultivator Standard

7 3019 Green Alchemy LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

8 3243 ABCO Garden State LLC Manufacturer Standard

9 2718 Jersey Extraction Lab LLC Manufacturer Standard

10 3684 Canopy Crossroad, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

11 4291 Lady L Cannabis LLC Retailer Microbusiness

12 4027 Social Dispensary Retailer Microbusiness

13 3608 Citi Roots LLC Retailer Standard

14 4385 Dogwood Green LLC Retailer Standard

15 3006 Hound Town 543 Retailer Standard

16 2774 HudHaus LLC Retailer Standard

17 4020 Nimbus Holdings LLC Retailer Standard

18 3200 ReLeaf Cannabis LLC Retailer Standard

19 3038 Vigor Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

20 3621 Scarlet Reserve Room RB Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved the converted to annual cannabis license winners 5-0.

Conversion to Annual NJ Cannabis License Denied

“I was hoping to not see one of these,” Brown said.

He explained an applicant didn’t pay application fees. So they were denied the conversion.

“They’re welcome to reapply,” Brown added.

“I share the sentiment lamenting one of these. It is what it is,” Houenou noted.

Sensory Dispensary Retailer Standard was the only one.

The NJCRC approved it 4-0, with Barker abstaining.

4 Annual NJ Cannabis License Winners Awarded

Brown said the annual approvals were for 4 retailers.

1 3825 Kine Buds Maywood LLC Retailer Standard

2 3592 Kine Buds Monroe LLC Retailer Standard

3 4773 KushKlub NJ LLC Retailer Standard

4 4741 Lenola Wellness LLC Retailer Standard

Diverse Ownership Issues Discussed

“I’m very concerned. It pains me to be here during Black History Month to share my purview from what I see,” Barker said. “Our cannabis industry is shaping up to be dominated by businesses whose majority ownership does not reflect those that have been most harmed by the failed War on Drugs, particularly our Black, our indigenous, and our Hispanic people and communities.”

“We need to provide more in-depth data,” he argued. “We didn’t legalize this because it’s business as usual: we did this to address the harms that the failed War on Drugs caused.”

Barker wanted more Social Equity designated license applicants to succeed.

“Focus on this issue more,” he added.

Barker also wanted minority ownership increased.

Slow Progress

“As a Latina woman, I take this very seriously. The numbers that (Diversity and Inclusion Director) Wesley (McWhite) has presented… show progress. It’s going to take time. We are working very hard to provide those resources,” Commissioner Maria Del Cid explained.

She noted they’re working with other state agencies to help applicants.

Del Cid said they’re working to lower the barriers to entry.

“It is our priority to ensure we have (minority) representation in the ownership,” she declared. “It is a priority of mine.”

“I have identified certain individuals who are submitting consultant or vendor contractor agreements which are not subject to the statutory cap. We need to conduct more probity on such agreements to determine whether they are actually Management Service Contractors, which would be subject to the five limit cap,” Commissioner Krista Nash explained. “Oversight in this is crucial to promoting a fair and equitable industry.”

“I’m Black and Latino. My mom is Dominican. So, that is not lost on me either. We’re on year 3. We were going to start as a foundation leading with equity and diversity. We can and should be willing to do better,” Barker said.

The NJCRC passed it 4-0, with Barker abstaining.

Harmony OKed to Grow, Make Rec Products Under New Owners

Brown said that Harmony Foundation is distressed. They closed their dispensary in Secaucus in Hudson County last year. They also lost their local Hoboken in Hudson County approval last year. Their third location was supposed to be in Jersey City.

“They have been under control of a court-appointed custodian,” he noted.

That proposed sale to Illicit Cannabis New Jersey LLC was reviewed by the court and approved, he added.

Illicit Cannabis New Jersey is likely a division of the Missouri-based Illicit Gardens.

It seems they won their own NJ manufacturing license in September 2022 and a cultivation license in October 2022.

They won a grant but told Heady NJ they did not accept it.

The NJCRC approved the ownership change 4-1, with Barker dissenting.

Harmony had problems for a while due to poor leadership, which led to a lawsuit. The former CEO was also President of the NJ Cannabis Trade Association, representing only licensed companies.

However, in Lafayette in Sussex County, their cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis products operation on the medical side continued. They only want to expand the cultivation and manufacturing operations to adult use.

Brown did not indicate their dispensary in Secaucus would re-open. Despite the lack of a dispensary, he said their paperwork on the other operations was good.

The NJCRC approved their expansion into the adult use NJ cannabis market 4-1, with Barker voting no.

Bloc Adult Use Cannabis License Renewal

Brown said Bloc, formerly Justice Grown with locations in Ewing in Mercer County and Somerset in Franklin Township in Somerset County, were up for license renewal for their dispensaries.

Houenou said they’re working on improving the renewal process in general.

The NJCRC approved it 4-0, with Barker abstaining.

Getting Badges for NJ Cannabis Workers

Brown said they need to create temporary or provisional badges for workers in the licensed New Jersey cannabis industry.

“We’ve been hearing about the problems,” he noted.

Brown said some of the problems are out of their control.

A provisional badge would be good for 90 days.

Provisional status badges would not be available to owners, principals, or managers, just regular employees.

Some with provisions would have to show evidence for rehabilitation. Many of the delay’s problems are around the criminal background check process.

Houenou noted the need for licensed cannabis businesses to hire people to start working.

“Enthusiastically yes,” NJCRC Vice Chair Sam Delgado said.

The NJCRC approved the provisional badging resolution 5-0.

Many New Jersey cannabis owners have argued securing badges for workers has been a slow process that has hurt their operations.

NJ Cannabis License Review Process Discussed

Houenou said the application review process takes about 21 weeks for an annual license application.

This includes 14-17 weeks for verification of priority status, completeness review, application scoring, and review of qualification for a license. The review process by the NJCRC board and then discussion and approval at a meeting takes 3-4 weeks for a total of 17 to 21 weeks.  

It includes investigations into the background of the owners.

Houenou said some thought submitting a lot of information requires a lot of time to get approved by the NJCRC. The process is getting streamlined.

“Be on the lookout for updated forms,” she noted.

Reviewing Progress Made

Brown noted that the NJCRC is almost three years old and wants to increase efficiency.

He explained they are making progress in decreasing the time it takes to do a product review before it enters the New Jersey cannabis market. A few license holders have both been unhappy about that.

He added that the rules on more cannabis edibles in the market are making progress towards finalization.

They are very eager to have high manufacturing standards if federal cannabis legalization ever occurs.

“Not counting on federal legalization any time soon,” he exclaimed.

But he did explain they want to ensure local businesses can compete should the time come.

“The market is making incredible progress. We are headed to a billion-dollar market,” Brown declared. “2024 is the year this is a billion-dollar market! I’m confident that we’ll reach and surpass that.”

He commended Deputy Executive Director Kelly Anderson-Thomas for her work making that happen.

She noted the NJCRC started small in April 2021 after adopting the Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana program. They grew from 5 Commissioners and Brown and eventually the medical marijuana staff to a staff of 73 now.

“If you have worked in the state, you would know it is a hard task,” Anderson-Thomas added about staffing.

She commended Brown for prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the staff.

NJ Cannabis License Statistics Update

Anderson-Thomas said that New Jersey recreational or adult use sales last year came to $673,907,755 while 2500 applications have been submitted and more than 100 medical and adult dispensaries have opened.

Medical sales were around $99 million for the first 3 quarters of 2023, she added.

One thousand seven hundred sixty-five cannabis license applications have been approved, while 113 are under review in licensing, and 301 are pending resubmission. One hundred ninety-four applications are under review in compliance and investigations.

Anderson-Thomas said their ownership shows the market is diverse.

Of the overall 374 annual licenses approved, 19 percent are Asian owned, 18 percent are majority Black-owned, and 9 percent are Hispanic-owned. Thirty-seven percent are White owned, 8 percent are non-identified, and 1 percent is Native American-owned.

“We still have more to do with our Hispanic population. We are increasing our outreach efforts,” she added.

Anderson-Thomas touted their ownership stats.

New Jersey Cannabis License Ownership Data

There have been 268 conditional conversions, 153 exclusively annuals, and 66 expanded ATCs from medical into adult use cannabis approved.

The patient numbers are down to 85,641 patients from about 125,000 at the height.

Del Cid said she was happy about the number of dispensaries.

“We need to keep an eye on the number of cultivation sites. That’s crucial to ensure there’s enough to supply the dispensaries opening up,” she noted.

There was no data on where the owners of the annual New Jersey cannabis license holders live.

McWhite told Heady NJ that data on the owners of the annual licenses would hopefully be available at the next meeting.

He argued that New Jersey is doing better in implementing cannabis legalization than other states.

For years, New Jersey cannabis advocates criticized the system former Governor Chris Christie (R) implemented that favored White male-owned cannabis companies from other states. The owners, who never seemed to have gotten caught smoking or selling weed, always seemed most interested in selling mediocre, overpriced cannabis. They also didn’t seem to like underground operators or legal home growing much.

Under Governor Phil Murphy (D), progress away from that has gradually increased. But it has been too slow for those who wanted a complete turnaround.

Permitting and Licensing

Del Cid explained that 194 extensions of conditional NJ cannabis licenses have been issued recently. She added two of the 2019-2021 medical cannabis license awardees gave up on opening.

“The committee is recommending not to reissue those awards,” Del Cid noted. “A lot of time has lapsed since those awards were issued.”

She said they’re holding a hearing this spring on improving the license application process.

Company Name Changes

Houenou said Del Cid was recused from matters on Clade9, likely due to a conflict of interest like a close relationship with one of the owners.

Brown said Clade9 New Jersey LLC will be the QCC Group.

The NJCRC approved it 4-0, with Del Cid recused.

Shigh LLC will be Midnight Greens LLC.

The NJCRC approved it 5-0.

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