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NJCRC Approves 49 Legal Cannabis Licenses & Discusses Minority Owner Issues

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) approved 49 licenses and discussed minority owners in the New Jersey legal cannabis industry.

NJCRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said 1647 applications have been received overall. He said that minority owners submitted 72 percent of them.

He explained they had received 175 conditional conversion legal cannabis license applications thus far.

“Those applications are moving through licensing, investigations. We are moving through them expeditiously,” Brown said.

He explained the process takes about 90 days to get through.

14 Annual Licenses Approved

The following annual legal cannabis license applications were approved.

1 193 E.V. LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

2 1164 CSDE Manufacturing LLC Cultivator Standard

3 1210 High Grass Farms, LLC Cultivator Standard

4 1226 High Grass Farms, LLC Manufacturer Standard

5 2018 Altitude Cannabis LLC Retailer Standard

6 2420 Everest Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

7 1842 Goldfinch Retail NJ LLC Retailer Standard

8 2028 Nova Farms Woodbury LLC Retailer Standard

9 1877 Shiva’s Plant LLC Retailer Standard

10 1980 Shorehouse Canna, LLC Retailer Standard

11 1645 The Social Leaf LLC Retailer Standard

12 2074 Uncle Beez Greeneryz LLC Retailer Standard

13 2155 WR Wellness LLC Retailer Standard

14 2581 Green Scientific Labs NJ Testing Laboratory Standard

Testing Labs apparently now count as a license class officially.

Minority Owners Issues Discussed

“I’m very concerned. Eleven of the 14 annuals up for proposed awards are owned by White applicants. There are zero owned by Latino, Latina applicants and 0 owned by Black applicants. We can do better. I am looking forward to us doing that,” Commissioner Charles Barker said.

“The Board simply reviews applications accepted. Can you elaborate on what you’re hoping to see improved?” NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou asked.

“The Board and staff together are prioritizing and promoting the reflecting the diversity and inclusion we want to see. Those most harmed by the War on Drugs. We have expressed that. This is our commitment. Our work is just not being reflected in our proposed awards. I’m just hoping for a better understanding,” Barker replied.

“We have our next data update in April when we present data on our owners. Twenty-five percent of the license awards were majority Black-owned businesses. Of today’s proposed awardees… there are 12 of them that are diversely-owned businesses,” Brown explained.

Diverse NJ Cannabis Industry Issues

“The entire Board shares the vision of wanting to see a diverse industry. The Board cannot control who is applying and the makeup of those entities,” Houenou said. “If you want to apply, please do so. We make a ton of resources available on our website. We want to see everyone who wants to join us in this regulated industry have the opportunity to do so.”

The conditional process was designed to help minority-owned businesses.

Commissioner Maria Del Cid said the National Hispanic Cannabis Caucus webinar next week is designed to motivate minority owners.

“There’s a lot of help out there now, starting with the NJBAC and the EDA. It is the CRC’s mission to continue to fight for Social Equity,” she added.

Most minority owners likely badly need the much-promised capital from the NJ Economic Development Authority (EDA) and training from the NJ Business Action Center the NJCRC has promised.

Patience Versus Speed

“The CREAMM Act gives the CRC the authority to determine based on the market needs. The market needs and demands more Black and Brown businesses to establish a more equitable foundation. We have the power to go slower and not necessarily roll out more market opportunities. But not equitable opportunity. We can be more patient,” Barker argued.

“We could be more patient. But how do we know if the businesses could be more patient?” Vice Chair Sam Delgado asked.

He noted how expensive the legal cannabis licensing application process is.

“I understand what you’re saying,” Delgado said. “If we had not approved this, that one African American business would not be able to open. We have to be judicious in our approach.”

“We’re committing to being totally transparent on how this market is developing. This is developing into one of the most diverse cannabis markets in the country. We always do better. We always strive to do better,” Brown said. “We’ve been doing very well. I’m confident this will improve.”

“I’m very encouraged by those numbers and proud to be one of the commissioners helping this business move forward so we can actually see the inclusive industry take shape,” Houenou said.

“It’s never going to be perfect,” Delgado said.

“Agreed,” Houenou said.

The NJCRC approved them 4-1, with Barker voting no.

Two applications were approved by the NJCRC 4-1-1, with Del Cid recused due to a “prior working relationship” and Barker voting no.

15 1060 Clade9 New Jersey LLC Cultivator Standard

16 1008 Clade9 New Jersey LLC Manufacturer Standard

32 NJ Legal Cannabis Conditional Licenses Approved

The list of new conditional licenses is as follows:

1 2667 Little Leaf Labs, LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

2 2651 NJ Grow Free LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

3 2619 B2C Cannabis Manufacturer Microbusiness

4 1907 Earthly Tea, LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

5 2580 Sea Isle Cannabis Company Manufacturer Microbusiness

6 2608 Fu Mei Farms Corporation Manufacturer Standard

7 2639 Andover Cannabis, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

8 2617 Atlantic City Cannabis Retailer Microbusiness

9 1806 Essence Wellness Retailer Microbusiness

10 2630 Gas Station Boys 2 Retailer Microbusiness

11 2624 House of Cannabis Dispensary LLC Retailer Microbusiness

12 2501 Lifted Jersey LLC Retailer Microbusiness

13 2643 Lushly LLC Retailer Microbusiness

14 2326 The Cannabis Shoppe, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

15 2606 THRIV3 Retailer Microbusiness

16 2649 Uplift Cannabis, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

17 2663 V V C Gardens, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

18 2664 WEEDBYUS, INC. Retailer Microbusiness

19 2647 705 Raritan Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

20 2629 Amazing Flowers LLC Retailer Standard

21 2672 Best Dispensary Near Me, LLC Retailer Standard

22 2605 CannaBellas Retailer Standard

23 2675 Club 420 LLC Retailer Standard

24 2422 Fader Farms Retailer Standard

25 2645 High Almighty LLC Retailer Standard

26 2600 Javida, LLC Retailer Standard

27 2618 MCNJ Group Retailer Standard

28 2621 Motherland NUG Company LLC Retailer Standard

29 2622 NJ Tangled Up In Green LLC Retailer Standard

30 2646 Retreat NJ, LLC Retailer Standard

31 2430 The Cannabis Connoisseurs LLC Retailer Standard

32 2576 Vets for Cannabis, LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them 5-0.

1 Conditional License Conversion Approved

Only one conditional license could convert this month. They can only open once they convert to what’s called an “annual license.”

Organic Farms Corp Retailer Microbusiness

Initially, two were posted on the NJCRC website prior to the meeting.

The NJCRC approved them 3-1-1, with Barker voting no and Commissioner Krista Nash abstaining.

The number of legal cannabis licenses approved by the NJCRC was not noted but is over 1,000.

BLOC expanded to Adult-use/Recreational Sales

BLOC, formerly Justice Grown, was allowed to sell adult-use, recreational cannabis.

Brown explained that, like other Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs), they had to secure municipal approval, proof of continuing to dispense to registered patients and supply to do so, and the supply for new legal cannabis consumers.

“I noticed municipal ordinances might not be as explicit as they need to be,” Houenou said.

She “encouraged municipalities to be explicit and make sure the language of the municipal ordinance is clear, accurately reflects your intent, and work with staff to make sure any follow-up questions are answered. So we all move together.”

Brown noted new dispensary openings in the medicinal market have occurred.

“Please check them out if you’re a patient in the program,” he said.

Harmony has begun selling both recreational and medical cannabis. Brown noted they were approved to do so last year.

Houenou explained the Board adopted final rules, including new license classes, which will be published and available to the public next week on March 6th.

“Be on the look for that for the exact language on the final regulations,” she said.

Also, cannabis lounge rules are in their public comment period, which ends March 18th.

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