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NJCRC Approves 71 Licenses and Discusses Cannabis Grants

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) approved 71 cannabis licenses and rolled out cannabis grants to help cannabis entrepreneurs who need capital.

Conditional Licenses Approved

NJCRC Executive Director Jeff Brown announced the following license winners:

1 2357 AC Flower Pot LLC Cultivator Micro

2 2551 CC Bloom LLC Cultivator Micro

3 1215 Eighth Street Provisions Cultivator Standard

4 2544 Bioguyax LLC Manufacturer Micro

5 2550 CC Bloom LLC Manufacturer Micro

6 1356 Lovefloriza Holdings LLC Manufacturer Micro

7 2567 Amcann Group LLC Manufacturer Standard

8 2477 Elixicor LLC Manufacturer Standard

9 2561 Strain House, LLC Manufacturer Standard

10 1653 AC LEEF LLC Retailer Micro

11 2575 All Budz LLC Retailer Micro

12 2241 Cannabis Company of New Jersey Retailer Micro

13 2592 Captain Jenks, LLC Retailer Micro

15 2476 Exquisite Images and Fine Entertainment Retailer Micro

16 2255 Gotaylor LLC Retailer Micro

17 2601 HighLine Cannabis Retailer Micro

18 2452 Memes Danckk World Retailer Micro

19 2345 Nadia Aldakar Retailer Micro

20 2543 Natural Smokes LLC Retailer Micro

Many Licenses Approved

21 2456 Not Your Mother’s Garden, LLC Retailer Micro

22 2588 Quality Cannabliss LLC Retailer Micro

23 2566 Rue’s Garden LLC Retailer Micro

24 2536 Spot 23 LLC Retailer Micro

25 2555 Sweet Dreams Dispensary, LLC Retailer Micro

26 2247 The Hydroponics Club Retailer Micro

27 2565 White Lotus Dispensary LLC Retailer Micro

28 2598 662 Mota Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

29 2590 A La Herb LLC Retailer Standard

30 2522 BeeHighv Retailer Standard

31 2560 Blazin Brown Suga Retailer Standard

32 2367 Bud City LLC Retailer Standard

33 2366 Bud Space LLC Retailer Standard

34 1909 Flavors Wellness Retailer Standard

35 2542 Fresh Elizabeth LLC Retailer Standard

36 1870 Garden of Eden Dispensary Retailer Standard

37 2538 Greenlight Apothecary Retailer Standard

38 2360 Hashes to Ashes LLC Retailer Standard

39 2571 King Kanna Retailer Standard

40 2486 Mac Holdings nj Retailer Standard

41 2586 Mr Jerry’s LLC Retailer Standard

42 2530 Nhale LLC Retailer Standard

43 2450 Suburban Greens Retailer Standard

44 2528 The Elevation Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

45 1547 Trance Dispensary Retailer Standard

46 2552 Vayana II Retailer Standard

47 1648 Violetblu Enterprises Co Retailer Standard

48 2298 Weed To Go LLC Retailer Standard

49 2411 Xhale Cannabis Lounge LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them 5-0.

Conditional License Conversion to Annual License Applications

Brown said after winning this, there are more steps before opening.

“Applications have an ongoing obligation to report material changes,” he explained. “FSAs (Financial Service Agreements) and MSA (Management Service Agreements) approvals are also key.”

They are an area full of shady deals trying to hide.

“That’s something that needs to be continuously disclosed,” Brown added. “Financial investigation does not stop.”

“Normally, the board votes on the blocks. I need more information on application 2362. Therefore, I would like to separate it,” Commissioner Krista Nash said.

She made a motion to separate Cloud Nine Dispensary.

It passed 5-0.

“It is disheartening for me to see so few Black and Latino-owned businesses moving through the process. The market needs more businesses in the communities,” Commissioner Charles Barker said.

He noted most are majority White-owned.

“There could be more support from our Governor and Legislature to support these equity funding programs,” Barker added.

He said towns should approve more equity businesses, and banks and incubators should give more money to cannabis entrepreneurs. Government property could be used for a cannabis company, Barker argued.

The following cannabis companies were approved:

1 2143 Garden Organics LLC Cultivator Standard

2 2294 HarvestWorks Farm Corporation Cultivator Standard

3 2217 Cannabis Plus LLC Manufacturer Standard

4 2144 Garden Organics LLC Manufacturer Standard

5 2295 HarvestWest Farm Corporation Manufacturer Standard

6 2323 Elevated by TheCannaBossLady Retailer Micro

7 2340 Hackettstown Dispensary LLC Retailer Micro

8 2262 Mountain View Farmacy LLC Retailer Micro

9 2362 Cloud Nine Dispensary Retailer Standard

10 2395 Molly Ann Farms LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved the first 10 4-1, with Barker dissenting. They approved Cloud 9 3-1-1, with Barker dissenting and Nash abstaining.

Annual License Applications Approved

NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou recused herself from an application.

A recusal from voting in a government meeting is usually done when you don’t vote because you would likely benefit from its approval. Or because a close tie would make it seem like that could happen.

Nash made a motion to separate Township Green.

The following won first:

1 1001 Bass River Buds, LLC Cultivator Micro

2 2441 Yerrr Canna LLC Cultivator Micro

3 1177 HillviewMed Manufacturer Standard

4 1249 Sun Extractions, Inc. Manufacturer Standard

5 1631 Blue Oak NJ 1 LLC Retailer Micro

6 2342 Blue Violets LLC Retailer Micro

7 1708 Big Kahuna Companies, LLC Retailer Standard

8 2120 Blossom Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

9 2236 Highway 90 LLC Retailer Standard

10 1480 Puffin Store NJ LLC Retailer Standard

The first nine were approved 3-2, with Barker and Nash dissenting.

2062 Township Green LLC Retailer Standard was approved 3-1-1, with Barker and Nash dissenting and Houenou abstaining.

NJ Cannabis Licenses Overview

“We now have over 1500 applications submitted,” Brown said. “We are seeing more annuals and more encouragingly more conversions.”

He said 150 conditional license conversions are under review.

“More and more will be coming through the pipeline in the future,” Brown said.

“We know Black and Brown communities are suffering overwhelmingly discorporate cannabis policy and practices,” Barker declared.

He said they want to increase equitable opportunities.

“It’s important we are transparent. Will you be appropriately sharing more demographic data at our next CRC meeting?” Barker asked.

He wanted further racial breakdowns of the license applicants.

Brown said a lot of data is already on their website.

“We’re conducting an annual review of majority ownership,” he added. “The preliminary results are a quarter of annual license awardees are owned by individuals who are represented as being Black or African American. Three are Latino.”

Barker was concerned about majority owner data specifically.

NJEDA Discusses Cannabis Grants Pilot Program

“We have some colleagues here today, some representatives from the EDA (Economic Development Agency),” Houenou explained. “Submit your comments to the CRC on proposed rules on cannabis consumption lounges. That public comment period ends March 18th, and we want to hear from you.”

She noted the New Jersey adult-use cannabis license winner lists are now posted online in advance of meetings.

Commissioner Maria Del Cid explained she spearheaded access to capital by working with the NJEDA.

“This is just one piece of the puzzle,” she noted. “We’ve heard the concerns about the lack of access to capital over and over again.”

Del Cid said she has been working with Barker and talking to cannabis market regulators nationwide about possible solutions.

“We came to you with this info. You took on the challenge. Thank you for your efforts,” she declared.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Barker admitted. “This is the number one issue we are facing. This program is going to provide… a significant infusion of capital to those who need it most.”

However, he wanted even more opportunities in the New Jersey cannabis market along with cannabis grants.

Expanding NJ Cannabis Opportunities

“We’re here to play a supporting role … following Governor Murphy’s leadership,” CEO Tim Sullivan said.

He explained that they want to diversify the economy in both minorities and industries following Murphy’s vision.

“It’s the first of a suite of programs. It’s a pilot program. We’re going to see how it goes and scale and learn from there. We’re working on strategy,” Sullivan said about the cannabis grant program.

“Access to capital is a huge problem in every industry, particularly for founders of color,” he noted.

Sullivan explained it’s even worse in cannabis, especially due to federal prohibition.

“There’s a huge opportunity in the early days to provide… a relatively modest investment,” Sullivan noted. “We’re proud to be a small part of this effort.”

NJ Government Collaboration

“We are finally here! It feels like it took a year and a day. This is one component of a larger statewide strategy,” Chief Community Development Officer Tai Cooper exclaimed.

She noted they are working with the NJ Business Action Center (NJBAC) and the CRC.

“This is one tool in a suite of tools,” Cooper said. “We’re going to be asking you for more money.”

She said they held numerous round tables and spoke to many applicants and legacy applicants.

“We want to make sure we understood the needs,” Cooper explained.

She noted it’s called the “NJEDA Equity Grant Program for Cannabis,” but going to change.

“This is a cannabis program that has been allocated $10 million,” Cooper said.

$150,000 per cannabis grant will be awarded in Product One

$250,000 per cannabis grant will be awarded in Product 2.

There’s only one award per company.

Eligibility

To be eligible, they must have a conditional license formed after March 2020 and have 50 or fewer employees.

In Product One, 24 cannabis grants will be awarded.

“We were looking at much smaller amounts. But the need for funding to just get off the ground has been so overwhelming that it was only right to increase those amounts,” Cooper said.

She said it’s the most generous cannabis grant program in the United States.

Product One is only open to Social Equity applicants and Impact Zones. If they win the money, they must take a technical assistance course sponsored by the EDA.

Product 2 will award 24 companies cannabis grants up to $250,000.

It will be the first product launched.

“Do not hold me to this. We are targeting late February, early March,” Cooper said.

All applicants are eligible, but 40 percent will go to Social Equity and five percent to Impact Zone companies. They must have real estate and town approval to apply. Conditional conversion and annual applications are favored.

“The process for getting across that municipal line is difficult. We want to make sure we’re helping that along as well,” Cooper explained.

“We want to be very flexible,” she said about what money can be spent.

Every expense has to be approved by the EDA.

For example, they will allow you to pay rent but not buy land.

“We are ready to launch Product 2,” Cooper declared.

Social Equity and Money

She praised Murphy ‘for having the foresight to understand Social Equity has to be at the center of what we’re doing.”

“I do want to laud the work you are doing,” Houenou said. “You were all keen to play a role in this space.”

She explained the CRC has to be well-established before the EDA could help applicants through them, which delayed the process.

“How are the mechanics?” Vice Chair Sam Delgado asked.

Cooper said for Product One, there would be four disbursements of $37,000 each.

“Funds will not be distributed until they reach those benchmarks,” she said.

Product Two would have two disbursements based on real estate town approval and license status.

License Caps Expiring

Del Cid explained that the license cap expiration of 37 cultivators and no further vertical integration date is February 22nd.  

There are six growers currently that are medical only, none are only adult, and 11 have dual medical and adult-use licenses for a total of 17.

Del Cid said New Jersey has the fewest legal cultivators in all the state legal cannabis markets.

She said there is currently a license for every 197,000 people versus 1 in 31,000 in many states.

They recommended no caps.

Del Cid said previously adult-use cannabis dispensary licenses couldn’t apply for other licenses.

They will also make it easier for conditional licenses an extension to the annual license needed to open.

Most are having trouble with money, real estate, and town approval.

Small adult-use cannabis companies have not had time to open, much less mature, given the ongoing delays of New Jersey cannabis due to politics, lawsuits, and COVID.

Thus, the vision behind this delay of vertical integration will never be realized in the New Jersey adult-use cannabis market.

Many cannabis companies plan to be vertically integrated.

Social Equity Excise Fee Review

Delgado said the Social Equity Excessive fee is $ 1.52 for an ounce. It’s based on a statewide average of $455.56 for an ounce of legal cannabis. He explained they held five hearings on where to spend the money.

Most of it goes into their fund, while 15 percent has to go to stopping minors from consuming cannabis.

Delgado said the legislature and Governor decide where the money goes. He noted people want the money to go to economic development, criminal justice reform, workforce development, youth services, and public health.

“Our core recommendations to the legislature and the Governor … is we invest the funds in grants and training for aspiring entrepreneurs in economically disadvantaged areas,” Delgado said.

He noted many wand more money for the NJBAC program.

The NJCRC approved it 4-1, with Barker again dissenting.

Brown said it was very innovative nationally and raises as the fee as price drops.

Rule Adoption

Chief Counsel Christopher Riggs explained they are finalizing the New Jersey adult-use cannabis rules.

The rules will be finalized and published on March 6th.

Riggs noted that the rules offer a minimum of local guidance.

“I feel like we didn’t go as far we could have. I hope we’re open to further amendments,” Barker said.

He said they should add fee waivers, hardship definitions for medical cannabis patient discounts, license prioritization, and edibles need to be added.

“Especially for patients,” Barker noted. “These are just a few actions I hope we can consider.”

Houenou said they prioritize licenses based on their practices versus the rules.

“When it comes to medicinal rules, that is something the board will be tackling,” she said.

The NJCRC approved them 4-1, with Barker dissenting.

Name Changes

Three licensed companies wanted to change their name.

GLCPC LLC to Theo A Cannabis

Eastern Green Inc. will be Eastern Green Dispensary

JG New Jersey LLC to Bloc Dispensary

JG used to be known as Justice Grown. They’re already calling themselves Bloc.

So much for justice.

The NJCRC approved it 5-0.

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