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NJCRC OKs 36 New Jersey Weed Licenses & Discusses Progress

The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) approved 36 New Jersey weed licenses to operate in the adult-use market and discussed progress made.

Winners of Conditional New Jersey Weed Licenses

NJ-CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown explained their process for qualifications and licensing priority based on ownership and review. The winners were then announced.

1 RPI Partners, LLC Cultivator Standard

2 Unity Alternative Therapy of NJ LLC Cultivator Standard

93 CannaBoy TreeHouse, LLC Delivery Microbusiness

4 Grab & Dash Logistics LLC Delivery Microbusiness

5 High Rollerz LLC Delivery Microbusiness

6 Original Scarlet Reserve NJ Delivery Microbusiness

7 Vayana II Delivery Standard

8 Grab & Dash Logistics LLC Distributor Microbusiness

9 Unity Alternative Therapy of NJ LLC Manufacturer Standard

10 Decebal LLC Retailer Microbusiness

11 Spliffmasterhq Retailer Microbusiness

12 The Cannabis Store LLC Retailer Microbusiness

13 Glyph Innovations LLC Retailer Standard

14 Heritage Cannabis Farms LLC Retailer Standard

15 NJ Cares II LLC Retailer Standard

16 SVA NJ Services LLC Retailer Standard

17 Kush Express LLC Wholesaler Standard

The NJCRC approved them 4-0 with Vice Chair Sam Delgado absent.

Conditional Denials

“We do have denials of previously awarded conditional licenses,” Brown said. “These are applications who have been awarded and not paid the fee following award. They’ve been noticed several times.”

The denials included Endure Exotics LLC Cultivator, Equality Richman Estates Cultivator, Canna Café NJ LLC, Endure Exotics Retailer, Hazlie Corri-Ahna Retailer, and New Jersey Bound Retailer.

The NJCRC approved the denials of the previously awarded New Jersey weed licenses 3-0, with Commissioner Charles Barker abstaining and Delgado absent.

Conversion to Annual New Jersey Weed Licenses Awards

15 Conditional award winners won conversion from a conditional license to an annual New Jersey weed license needed to open.

1 Divine Garden L.L.C. Cultivator Microbusiness

2 Iron Falls Growery LLC Cultivator Microbusiness

3 Market Wave LLC Cultivator Standard

4 Royal Dynastic Organics LLC Cultivator Standard

5 Iron Falls Growery LLC Manufacturer Microbusiness

6 OGeez Brands NJ LLC Manufacturer Standard

7 Cuzzie’s LLC Retailer Microbusiness

8 L’Eagle Dispensary, LLC Retailer Microbusiness

9 Chilltown Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

10 Flowerpower Wellness, LLC Retailer Standard

11 Hamm and Chaz, LLC Retailer Standard

12 Magic Garden Botanicals LLC Retailer Standard

13 Releaf Newton LLC Retailer Standard

14 The Dispensary of Saddle Brook LLC Retailer Standard

15 The Other Side Dispensary Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them 4-0 with Delgado absent.

Annual License Winners

The annual license winners were then announced.

“They all went through the process I outlined at the beginning,” Brown noted.

1 As Promised Farms LLC Cultivator Standard

2 Nova Farms Woodbury LLC Manufacturer Standard

3 Ervana Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

4 Mom & Pop Shop LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them 4-0 with Delgado absent.

Expanding to Adult-use from Medical Cannabis Applications

Brown explained a few Alternative Treatment Centers (ATC) in the medical market want to add adult-use sales.

“They have to ensure they have adequate supply to continue to serve the medical market and add additional adult-use consumers,” he noted.

He said they also must ensure they can handle patients without doing so at the expense of the adult-use market. The following companies were considered:

  1. Theo A. Cannabis, LLC 3059 Route 27, Units 104 & 105, Franklin Park, Cannabis Retailer.
  2. HillviewMed Inc. 30 Hillview Road, Lincoln Park Cannabis Cultivator.
  3. Green Medicine NJ, LLC 638 Brunswick Pike, West Amwell, Cannabis Cultivator.

The NJCRC approved all three 3-0-1 with Delgado absent.

Annual New Jersey Weed License Renewals

Brown said 9 annual licenses held by New Jersey adult-use cannabis dispensaries are up for renewal.

There’s a reason they’re called annuals.

He explained the medical cannabis expanded MSOs of Ascend and Ayr were on their second annual renewals. Also up for renewal were Earth & Ivy, the small MSO Nova Farms, and Union Chill which were the first exclusively adult-use cannabis dispensaries up for renewal along with the large MSO MPX NJ.

The NJCRC approved it 3-0-1 with Barker abstaining and Delgado absent.

Petty Enforcement Action Due to Storage Issue

“We do have a notice of violation. The goal is compliance here. It’s never a pleasurable thing. We do have one for Urb’n Dispensary. They failed to secure their storage area, which is a requirement,” Brown said.

They did not comply with a scolding or a written warning.

“They’ve corrected this. We’re not recommending any further enforcement action,” he noted.

NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou said they’ve been warned three times. Next time, she wants them fined.

“There has been no impact to the public health or safety,” she noted.

The NJCRC approved it 3-1, with Barker voting no and Delgado absent.

Jersey Cannabis Progress

“This industry is expanding week by week,” he exclaimed.

“We have over 120 open retail stores across the state,” Brown noted. “2024 is going to be the year we see a lot of new independent cultivators, and manufacturers get operational.”

“That’s going to lead to more product diversity, more downward pressure on prices and ultimately a more consumer-focused market,” he argued.

There are 131 applications are under review while 303 applications need more information after cures or errors they are allowed to fix.

Brown said it’s the first time less than 100 New Jersey weed license applications are under review by the Office of Compliance and Investigations at 98.

In terms of established companies, 312 annual conversion licenses, 164 straight annual licenses, and 72 expansions into the adult-use cannabis market from the medical side have been issued for a total of 548, Brown said. Of those, 236 operating New Jersey weed licenses and permits have been issued.

The medical cannabis patient count continues to plummet to 79,722 patients, down from about 125,000, about 5,000 caregivers, and about 1500 doctors.

NJ Adult-use Cannabis Company Ownership Diversity Stats

“We’re seeing more cultivators and manufacturers being approved and also applying for conversion,” Director of Diversity and Inclusion Wesley McWhite III noted.

He also presented statistics on Social Equity and diversity-only companies with the numbers increasing over time. Of the 476 exclusively adult-use cannabis conversions to annuals and regular annuals, 17 percent are Social Equity owned, and 71 percent are Diversely owned.

Then McWhite displayed the Diversely Owned statistics broken down by arrest and types of minorities:

McWhite noted the numbers have been getting better over time. The number of Social Equity owned companies is also getting bigger. Sixty-three are owned by those who were convicted of two misdemeanors or one felony to qualify as “justice involved.” To be a Social Equity applicant, you must be a New Jersey resident.

He was happy to show the stats of disabled veterans and women and minority-owned businesses improving. 44 percent of the annual licenses are owned by women or disabled veterans, and 37 percent minority-owned.

Feedback

“Foks are making it through the process,” McWhite declared.

He compared their stats to national statistics in the cannabis industry which makes New Jersey seem much better.

NJCRC weed licenses

McWhite noted that the difficult town approval process and the lack of capital or money are preventing many from opening.

He noted those are external issues. It’s not really their fault since towns have had great power towns have had in New Jersey for more than 100 years and the nature of American Business.

Feedback

“Is there an appetite to start tracking information… on the employees?” Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso asked.

“We do intend to present that at a future date,” Brown said.

He said they’re working on it.

McWhite said the businesses are self-reporting some statistics.

The Diversely Owned numbers seem almost too good to be true.

New Jersey’s cannabis law prioritizes minority and women-owned businesses in the licensing process. So it gives a company an incentive to say they’re minority, women, and/or disabled veteran-owned to be among the first to the market.

The NJCRC also has given no information regarding whether companies are majority locally owned versus a Multi-State Operator (MSO) corporation based elsewhere.

Medical and Adult-use Cannabis License Opening Extension Problems

Del Cid-Kosso noted they’re working on helping conditional license holders, who have a short time to convert before they ultimately expire, where they can apply again or give up.

“The committee continues to receive extension requests from the 2019 (to 2021 medical cannabis Request For Approval) RFA awardees. Out of the 44 2019 awardees, 21 are still waiting to become operational. These awardees are facing external factors,” she explained.

“To permit them from losing their award… the committee is now recommending the board to consider and amend the 2019 RFA to remove these operational deadlines,” Del Cid-Kosso said.

The NJCRC voted to eliminate inspection deadlines for the 2019/2021 awardees 4-0 with Delgado absent.

Annual Adult-Use License Opening Problems

Of the 548 annual awardees awarded, 394 haven’t opened after about a year due to town approval and construction problems.

“The Committee is now recommending to waive this,” she noted. “This waiver is going to help cannabis businesses that may be at risk of losing their license due to these delays.”

They want to hold a town hall on the licensing process where people can complain about the many, many problems that they have experienced during it.

“This feedback is going to be crucial,” Del Cid-Kosso added.

Annual License Opening Extension Period

NJCRC Chief Counsel Christopher Riggs noted onsite inspections to open currently must be completed within a year of winning an award. They want to waive expirations to stop them from being real failures. This would only apply to annual awardees.

So, the number of conditional license winners that could open will still decrease.

“If there is a lack of communication… you may be subject to having your award rescinded,” CR noted.

“I for one am very excited,” Houenou said. “As we continue to make sure that businesses are staying in touch with their field monitor and demonstrating efforts to become operational… this will be a great help.”

The NJCRC approved it 4-0 with Delgado absent.

Business Name Changes

Brown noted the following name changes.

  1. Green Sky Dispensary will be Red Oak Dispensary Absecon LLC.
  2. Happy Time Buds wants to be Verde Wellness.
  3. Lotus EHT LLC will be Red Oak Dispensary EHT LLC.
  4. Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm LLC will be Munsee Three Sisters. Cannabis LLC.
  5. Terrapin Investment Fund II LLC will be The Station, Hoboken LLC.

“You can only advertise the business and have signage that is according to the uh approved name. You might be subject to an enforcement action,” he said. They’ve all done what they need to do.”

“For those businesses considering name changes… you must operate under your existing present name,” Houenou noted.

The NJCRC approved it 4-0 with Delgado absent.

Ownership Changes

Brown said there are 5 ownership changes. According to his slide:

  1. Anka Field will be owned by Viego Verde Vannabis.
  2. Blossom Dispensary is going to be owned by Blossom Jersey City LLC.
  3. Docanna is making a change to its ownership structure.
  4. Natural Selections is going to be partially owned by C3 Industries.
  5. Puffin Store is going to be partially owned by NY2 Holdings Inc.

“This has been reviewed by our team,” he noted. “All five of them are recommended for approval.”

“Please refrain from predatory practices,” Barker declared.  

“We know… everybody doesn’t fully understand it. Sometimes, people are taken advantage of. It was very hard going through these and trying to really understand whether somebody understood the terms of the deal,” he explained. “Lend a hand to those coming up behind you.”

“Investors, we really want you in this industry. We think New Jersey is prime. But we want you to be fair,” Barker added.

The NJCRC approved it 3-0-1 with Barker abstaining and Delgado absent.

NJCRC Chair’s Remarks

“Tomorrow marks the NJCRC’s 3rd birthday,” Houenou noted.

“The last 3 years have seen incredible changes in the cannabis landscape,” she declared. “We are already seeing a diverse and inclusive recreational and medicinal cannabis market.”

Houenou argued New Jersey has been a national leader creating an underground legacy to legal pathway “in a way that promotes diversity and inclusion, and true collaboration with the public.”

“I remain committed to the commission’s values of equity, safety, and transparency,” she added.

“I’m excited for what comes next. Seeing even more businesses owners realize the American Dream and hang their own shingles,” Brown said.

Public Comment

During the public comment period Abigal Kalmbach noted her license expired since many towns opted out. She faulted the CRC for not properly educating towns and said more material should be on their website.

Kalmbach also brought up batch sizes, which was discussed in the public comment at the last meeting.

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