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NJCRC Reviews NJ Medical Marijuana Issues & OKs 34 Licenses


New Jersey medical marijuana was discussed by the NJCRC at their last meeting

 The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) reviewed New Jersey medical marijuana program issues and approved 34 adult-use licenses.

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program Input

NJCRC Acting Executive Director Christopher Riggs explained they invited guests to speak on medical cannabis issues.

Chair Dianna Houenou said they wanted input on the following New Jersey medical marijuana program issues from invited guests:

  • Should more medical conditions qualify patients?
  • How can the Commission support scientific cannabis research efforts?
  • What does clinical research look like?
  • How can health providers assist patients enroll in the program?

She noted the launch of a formal New Jersey medical marijuana clinical registrant program is in progress.

Drexel University Graduate College Dean Elizabeth Van Bockstaele explained she has conducted medical marijuana research in Pennsylvania. She noted the need to do more research and education.

Few are formally engaged in the process of educating medical professionals on the merits of medical marijuana.

(So share with them!)

“We need to understand how much someone is consuming,” Dr. Jennifer Ross of Drexel said. “It’s difficult to have a sound idea of dosing.”

Dr. Robert Sterling of Drexel said that patients know their individual Best Practices. He explained he was advocating for “more thorough and critical outcomes research.”

“Much of what takes place now is trial and error,” Sterling explained.

Sterling wanted specific findings to point to say medical marijuana is effective. He had some evidence since he ran a methadone clinic for heroin withdrawal. Those consuming cannabis had a much higher success rate of getting off heroin.

But Sterling said it wasn’t a very scientific study to address variables.

Commissioner Charles Barker noted the lengthy clinical trial process of Big Pharma.

“What does an equitable research trial look like?” he asked.

Sterling said an advisory board can help get those minorities historically underrepresented into scientific studies.

“How can we better educators on the endocannabinoids system?” Barker asked. “What should be the grade to cut off for teaching?”

“The earlier, the better,” Van Bockstaele said.

Ross said that college is a good place to educate nurses about it.

“There needs to be a curriculum baked into their training that includes cannabinoids,” she declared.

Qualifying Conditions of New Jersey Medical Marijuana Patients

“I urge the CRC to allow anyone with prescriptive privileges to recommend cannabis for any condition,” Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey (CMMNJ) Executive Director Ken Wolski declared.

He noted many diseases are very rare, and it can be a lengthy process to get them included.

Furthermore, Wolski explained that most healthcare facilities forbid the use of medical cannabis among patients. He said institutionalized patients qualify for medical cannabis, and it could benefit them and make it cheaper to run their facilities.

“It could be administered like any other drug,” Wolski argued.

He said clinical research takes years to complete.

“New Jersey has a unique opportunity to lead medical cannabis research,” Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana (M4MM) Co-Director Gaetano Lardieri declared.

He wanted them to create a division for cannabis research that should be led by professionals that included advisors to compliance.

A Cannabis Curriculum in Medical School

Lardieri also wanted to implement a robust medical cannabis curriculum in New Jersey medical schools. In addition, he also wanted a public information campaign on the endocannabinoid system to increase general education.

“This is a historical moment,” M4MM NJ Co-Chair Nichelle Santos declared.

She wanted them to foster a network of doctors who could recommend specific terpenes and strains. Santos also wanted to encourage new billing codes in health insurance related to medical marijuana.

Vice Chair Sam Delgado was interested in studying the results of the underground legacy cannabis.

“It is challenging, but it could be done with a well-placed program,” Lardieri replied.

Veteran’s Advocacy

Noted advocate and consultant Leo Bridgewater spoke for disabled veterans. He said the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to a spending bill allowing the Veteran’s Administration to support medical psychedelics and medical cannabis recently.

Bridgewater said the NJCRC should communicate with the NJ Senate Military Veterans Committee to benefit local veterans.

Federal prohibition has greatly hampered helping veterans.

He noted many vets don’t like that medical cannabis patients can’t own guns, which is also a federal issue.

Handicap Patient Access

Edward “Lefty” Grimes of Sativa Cross was also among those asked to testify. He appreciated their efforts to allow people to testify virtually at their live meetings going forward.

Lefty wanted them to increase access for people in wheelchairs working in licensed facilities. He was very passionate about disabled patients’ access to dispensaries and other places.

The Trouble with NJ Medical Marijuana Doctors

Noted cannabis advocate Chris Goldstein noted the NJ medical marijuana program has been one of the most restrictive. He said they should allow doctors to prescribe cannabis for any condition they see.

“Doctors are not well educated about cannabis therapy. Yet we are relying on doctors to serve as the access point,” he explained. “We have to have more doctors participating.”

Goldstein said the full cannabis plant can be used unlike other prescription drug materials, so it should be descheduled

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Prices

Goldstein said medical cannabis patients could self-register. He noted Delaware recently allowed seniors to do so.

He believed there should be a panel of patients and scientists advising the NJCRC on medical marijuana policy.

Goldstein said large MSOs charge less in Pennsylvania than they do in New Jersey.

“Make sure we have fair players in this market,” he declared.

Barker noted New Jersey is the pharmaceutical capital.

“What does an equitable and safe clinical registrant program look like?” he asked.

Goldstein said cannabis is not like a pharmaceutical.

“There is a medicinal use of cannabis in this part of culture,” he argued. “It has to look like research that’s actually in the community.”

Goldstein said a lot of data has to be given to large companies about patients.

“That data should be private,” he declared.

Goldstein explained he is working with State Senator Troy Singleton (D-7) on New Jersey medical marijuana price caps.

Negotiating New Jersey Medical Marijuana Prices

“New Jersey’s prices are double what they are in Pennsylvania,” he exclaimed.

Goldstein argued New Jersey medical marijuana prices haven’t really decreased much here. He wanted more price transparency.

“Because there’s no federal regulator for this, you have the responsibility to be the negotiator,” Goldstein declared. “You’ll have to be the diplomas here, and that’s tough.”

He noted the State has negotiated with pharmaceutical companies for better prices. Goldstein also wanted a special health insurance program to address steep New Jersey medical marijuana prices.

“That would be in the sausage-making of the legislation,” Delgado said.

“There has to be a transparent approach with pricing,” Goldstein said.

Former NJCRC Executive Director Jeff Brown always said the market would make it better eventually.

He never specified when “eventually” was.

Some licensed operators, especially the large MSOs, don’t see the lack of quality flower as a problem. Instead, they think it’s a problem elsewhere when the price of cannabis is so low they can’t make money. Due to the high cost of complying with red tape and taxes, they say they don’t make the money people think they do.

NJ Conditional License Winners

Riggs noted they have thoroughly reviewed the winners of conditional licenses. The winners of the first step in the process of opening included a range of companies, including wholesalers and delivery applicants.

1.    Green Rise Market LLC Cultivator Standard

2.    Remedy Oil Delivery Microbusiness

3.    Weedies Delivery Standard

4.    High End Gardens Manufacturer Microbusiness

5.    Green Rise Market LLC Manufacturer Standard

6.    Botanical Gardens Retailer Microbusiness

7.    Green Life Herbals LLC Retailer Microbusiness

8.    QueRated Retailer Microbusiness

9.    Gliese Dispensary L.L.C. Retailer Standard

10. Green Rise Market LLC Retailer Standard

11. High Haven Dispensary, LLC Retailer Standard

12. Laughing Leaf LLC Retailer Standard

13. The Healing Circle LLC Retailer Standard

14. Felicia Stoler, MS, RD, LLC Wholesaler Microbusiness

15. Authorized Dealers, LLC Wholesaler Standard

The NJCRC approved them unanimously.

Conditional Denials

Cr noted that 2 companies could not pay for their conditional license application fees and had to be denied:

  1. Eptiome7 LLC Retailer Microbusiness
  2. Atlantic City Cannabis Retailer Microbusiness

Barker abstained from the NJCRC’s approval of the denial.

NJ Conversion License Winners

Riggs explained the process by which conditional license winners can win an annual license needed to open. That includes going through background checks and quality control. The following companies won:

1.    Community Growth Partners New Jersey LLC Cultivator Standard

2.    Hope Holistic Healthcare Cultivator Standard

3.    Community Growth Partners New Jersey LLC Manufacturer Standard

4.    Salt Air Botanicals LLC Retailer Microbusiness

5.    Altalune, Inc. Retailer Standard

6.    Beyond BLeaf LLC Retailer Standard

7.    BluLight Cannabis LLC Retailer Standard

8.    Bud City LLC Retailer Standard

9.    Fresh Dispensary Eatontown LLC Retailer Standard

10. Juniper Lane NJ Corp Retailer Standard

11. Kush Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

12. White Lotus Dispensary LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them unanimously.

NJ Annual Cannabis License Winners

Riggs explained that the winners of an annual license who didn’t first apply for a conditional included a distributor license winner:

1.    Growing Buddies LLC Cultivator Standard

2.    Green Village Services LLC Distributor Standard

3.    Life Extracts LLC Manufacturer Standard

4.    Blulight Cannabis Gloucester City LLC Retailer Standard

5.    Stoke Industries Retailer Standard

6.    Wellgreens 1, LLC Retailer Standard

The NJCRC approved them, with Barker abstaining again.

Expanded Approval

The MSO Theory Wellness, which has a location in Trenton, wanted to sell adult-use cannabis after getting into selling New Jersey medical marijuana.

The NJCRC approved them doing so, with Barker abstaining.

Annual NJ Dispensary License Renewals

Riggs explained that some dispensaries needed their 1st or 2nd-year renewal of their annual licenses, hence the name. He said they need to submit ongoing information in a lengthy process.

The following were up for renewal:

  1. Aunt Mary’s
  2. URB’N Dispensary
  3. Bango New Jersey
  4. Lily Extracts
  5. Puffin Store
  6. Unity Rd Cannabis Shop
  7. New Era Dispensary
  8. Cookies Harrison
  9. A21 Health & Wellness
  10. Noire Dispensary
  11. Elevated by CannaBoss Lady
  12. Queen City Remedies
  13. Daylite Cannabis
  14. Shorehouse Canna

Those approved included 2019-2021 medical marijuana license winners gone recreational, small MSOs, and independent dispensaries that needed 1st-year approval.

NJCRC approved them unanimously.

Three large MSOs needed their 2nd annual approval to continue operating:

  1. TerrAscend Apothecarium
  2. Verano NJ Zen Leaf
  3. Columbia Care NJ The Cannabist

The NJCRC approved them, with Barker abstaining.

Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso was recused from the license review of the 2019-2021 winner which went rec, Brute’s Roots.

(which Heady NJ is advertising full disclosure.)

The NJCRC approved it, with Barker abstaining and Del Cid-Kosso recused.

Chair’s Report

Houenou updated the public with stats on licenses.

She noted many applicants have not paid attention to it recently.

Many have gone awol.

“Ensure your contact information is up to date,” Houenou said.

They might have given up on the process.

She explained they encourage the licensed dispensaries to be handicap accessible, especially medical ones.

Riggs added they want to make it easier to comment virtually at their live meetings in the future.

Dispensary Progress

Riggs said there are now more than 140 adult use and or medical dispensaries open.

“Each county has a dispensary that’s operational,” he declared.

The more rural conservative counties were holdouts for a while.

Cr noted that many dispensary openings have occurred:

  • Cream dispensary in Jersey City
  • Doobiez West Milford
  • Enlighten Health & Wellness Marlton
  • The Healing Side Atlantic City
  • Moja Life Trenton
  • One Green Leaf Gibbsboro
  • Sea & Leaf North Cape May
  • Twisted Hat Carney’s Point

Licensing Updates Stats

Riggs described the statistics of the ongoing licensing process:

NJCRC statistic on adult use and NJ medical marijuana program
NJCRC statistic on adult use and NJ medical marijuana program

There are 108 applications under review, 312 with problems or cures that need work, and 145 under review by the Office of Compliance and Investigation.

He noted medical program stats as well.

NJCRC statistic on adult use and NJ medical marijuana program

Riggs also explained they have updated statistics on the tax revenue collected in New Jersey from adult-use or recreational cannabis sales.

NJCRC statistic on adult use and NJ medical marijuana program revenue.

Conditional licensing Issues

Del Cid-Kosso said 39 Conditional extensions were granted last month.

She noted their licenses virtual town hall was held recently.

“We learned a lot from all of you,” Del Cid-Kosso said.

She noted the town issue is the biggest barrier they can’t help with, along with real estate issues and money.

Del Cid-Kosso noted that they heard that maintaining separate inventories of medical and adult use is difficult as well for some.

She explained said they want to conduct focus groups in the future.

“This is not the last listening session we’ll have,” Del Cid-Kosso argued.

License Ownership Changes

Cr explained they reviewed applications to add owners to the following licenses:

  • Harvest Works Farm Corp
  • Elevated Herb LLC
  • Glass Meadows LLC
  • Niche LLC

“Please refrain from predatory practices toward the awardees. Have someone review any and all agreements,” Barker declared.

Houenou noted they couldn’t give business advice.

The NJCRC approved the changes.

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