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Social Equity Owned Moja Life Opens 1st Rec Cannabis Dispensary in Trenton

The underground legacy to legal and social equity owned Moja Life opened the 1st recreational Trenton cannabis dispensary.

It’s the 106th adult-use cannabis dispensary noted by Heady NJ. They are a Black and locally owned micro dispensary.

Mayor Reed Gusciora joined them for the opening and received a tour of the place.

Moja Life occupies 2 floors in downtown Trenton near the State House. It was especially interesting that they had a dancing robot kiosk on the first floor by the checkout counter.

dancing robot kiosk in Moja Life

On the second floor they had jars where you could see and smell the legal New Jersey cannabis flower.

 Trenton Cannabis dispensary Moja Life has flower in jars displayed

Many passionate cannabis consumers want to be able to smell cannabis flower since smell determines its taste and effects.

Moja Life is selling cannabis products, including flowers from the underground legacy to legal and minority-owned Prolific Growhouse. Their grow facility in Mount Laurel in Burlington County was just toured by Governor Phil Murphy (D). They also have cannabis vape products from the small MSO Fernway.

Like all New Jersey cannabis dispensaries, for now, he has several products from large MSOs.

However, Moja Life will have products from the underground legacy to legal Full Tilt Labs soon.

“They have superior products to everybody else. I knew them back in the day when they were growing in tents,” Moja Life owner John Dockery noted.

He noted that more local cultivators and manufacturers will hit shelves as summer 2024 progresses.

Dockery is among the dispensary owners who are for New Jersey home cannabis cultivation, which remains a felony. He said that his grandmother grew cucumbers and still bought them. Dockery added that he had trouble with the difficult conditions of growing quality cannabis when he tried it himself.

Opening in Downtown Trenton

“I did it for my city,” he said about opening in downtown Trenton.

Dockery noted that post-COVID and other issues hit downtown Trenton especially hard. So, he wants to help revive the area.

“We remember growing up here in the city as kids and being able to come downtown when there were stores on both side of the street open. Gates weren’t down,” he said.

“Hopefully, it spreads, and we can bring downtown Trenton back to life,” Dockery said.

Underground Legacy to Legal Success Story

He explained he sold weed underground for years. His nickname was “Pak man.” Dockery would arrive at a place to sell weed with a backpack. People would call out “the pack man is coming.” He witnessed firsthand the injustices of marijuana prohibition during the War on Drugs.

Dockery has also seen the many hurdles placed in front of social equity entrepreneurs.  Yet, his dream of owning a legal dispensary, a symbol of living authentically and a leap of faith, never faltered.

Moja Life is a “Goldilocks” cannabis company since many social justice advocates and industry boosters would like to see companies owned by similar people thriving in the legal New Jersey cannabis industry.

So Dockery’s journey from the underground legacy market to social equity pioneer shows change is possible. Thus, he has emerged as a leading businessman in the cannabis industry. Dockery was recently featured by the Trenton Downtown Association at an event they hosted.

“The system is almost never designed for people with my background to succeed so too often we are left to grind it out in the shadows. But now I can take what I became known for in the legacy market, having the best cannabis, and sell it in a legal storefront in downtown Trenton,” he explained.

His passion for good Jersey weed translates well into the legal New Jersey cannabis market.

Dockery beat Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion to the legal cannabis market. He was by no means a sour winner.

“I respect what these guys do. They respect what I do. It’s a mutual respect,” he said.

NJWeedman said the Trenton Planning Director quit, which delayed the process. Law Director Wesely Bridges later confirmed it.

Trenton’s politics and red tape have hurt other underground legacy operators seeking to going legal, like Moe Weed.

Going legit was very hard for Moja Life.

“This industry is very predatory, especially against people like me from the legacy side,” Dockery declared.

He noted the whole process of opening the dispensary was very difficult.

“From top to bottom,” Dockery said.

At first, people were astonished when he told them he wanted to open a licensed dispensary. Now, others seek him out for mentorship on an underground legacy to a legal path.

“It wasn’t easy,” Dockery admitted about forging the path.

Moja Life got its Trenton city council approval to open in February 2023. They won a conversion to the annual license needed to open from the NJCRC in July 2023 after he spoke at their June 2023 meeting.

Moja (meaning “one” in Swahili) emphasizes the importance of individual experiences and the potential for personal growth.

“We all have one life,” Dockery said.

Growing Bigger

Dockery noted that he has a cultivation license for a facility based in Millville in Cumberland County in South Jersey. It’s a micro grow where he plans to grow craft cannabis.

“I’ll be fine if I never grow to a standard size,” Dockery said.  “I want to bring a great product to the market. Something we often don’t see on this inside in Jersey.”

Dockery noted he wants to sell his flower in his dispensary as well as others. He understood there is great demand for New Jersey craft cannabis.

“It’s outrageous the prices we pay for the quality sometimes,” he noted.

Going it Alone as Moja Life

Dockery initially was going to open as Simply Pure Downtown Trenton as a type of franchise. They secured one of the first 11 conditional dispensary licenses issued by the NCJRC as Simply Pure Downtown Trenton. Dockery said winning one of the first helped raise money.

But he encountered problems with the franchise.

“We just didn’t see eye to eye,” Dockery said. “I felt I had to be on my own.”

The NJCRC approved the company name change to Moja Life in October 2023.

Nonetheless, he remains very close to Simple Pure Trenton Dispensary of Ewing and noted advocate Tahir Johnson, who was at the opening supporting his old friend.

“We’ve been friends since we were 5 years old,” Dockery noted.

He said Moja Life is among the companies that won a seed grant for social equity owners from the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). However, the winners haven’t been publicly announced. However, a few posted on social media that they went through a class as part of the process of getting the money.

Trenton Mayor Gusciora has been very pro-cannabis for a while. He championed medical cannabis with homegrow as an Assemblyman prior to becoming mayor.

Gusciora also allowed underground legacy operators to vend at a social justice legalization rally at city hall in 2021 featuring NJCRC Chair Dianna Houenou.

It makes Trenton feel like New York City sometimes. Some in the cannabis industry see this as intense competition that will cut into their profit margins, which can be slim due to high taxes, among other problems.

“I’m not concerned with nobody. I’ve always focused on myself. I don’t focus on what the other man is doing. I’m from the legacy side,” Dockery explained.

“Hopefully, they do it the right way, too. They got great ideas,” he added. “Who am I to say I should have part of it and they should not?”

Trenton has many underground legacy operators with brick-and-mortar stores like NJWeedman’s Joint, among others.

Where is a Recreational NJ Cannabis Dispensary Near Me?

The following list of New Jersey adult-use cannabis dispensaries is an approximate reflection of when they opened and is partially alphabetical.

  1. Ascend MSO Montclair Medicinal and Recreational.
  2. Ascend Rochelle-Park Medicinal and Recreational.
  3. Ascend MSO Fort Lee Medicinal and Recreational.
  4. Ayr Wellness MSO (formerly Garden State Dispensary) Woodridge Medicinal and Recreational.
  5. Ayr Wellness MSO Eatontown Medicinal and Recreational.
  6. Ayr Wellness MSO Union Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  7. Apothecarium Dispensary MSO Phillipsburg Medicinal and Recreational.
  8. Apothecarium Dispensary MSO Maplewood Medicinal and Recreational.
  9. Apothecarium Dispensary MSO Lodi Medicinal and Recreational.
  10. BLOC MSO Somerset Medicinal and Recreational.
  11. BLOC MSO Waretown Medicinal and Recreational.
  12. BLOC MSO Ewing Medicinal and Recreational.
  13. The Botanist MSO Egg Harbor Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  14. The Botanist MSO Williamstown Medicinal and Recreational.
  15. GTRI Rise MSO Paterson Medicinal and Recreational.
  16. GTI Rise MSO  Bloomfield Medicinal and Recreational.
  17. The Cannabist MSO Vineland Medicinal and Recreational.
  18. The Cannabist MSO Deptfod Medicinal and Recreational.
  19. Curaleaf MSO Bordentown Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  20. Curaleaf MSO Bellmawr Medicinal and Recreational.
  21. Curaleaf MSO Edgewater Park Medicinal and Recreational.
  22. Zen Leaf MSO Elizabeth Medicinal and Recreational.
  23. Zen Leaf MSO Lawrence Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  24. Zen Leaf MSO Neptune Medicinal and Recreational.
  25. MPX NJ MSO Atlantic City Medicinal and Recreational.
  26. MPX NJ MSO Pennsauken Medicinal and Recreational.
  27. MPX NJ MSO Sicklerville Medicinal and Recreational.
  28. Valley Wellness Raritan Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  29. Aunt Mary’s Dispensary Flemington Medicinal and Recreational.
  30. NJ Leaf Freehold Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  31. downtown FLWR Jersey City Medicinal and Recreational.
  32. RIPT Jersey City Medicinal and Recreational.
  33. Daylite Cannabis Mount Laurel Recreational cannabis only.
  34. Design 710 Atlantic City Medicinal and Recreational.
  35. Eastern Green Voorhees Medicinal and Recreational.
  36. Brute’s Roots 6206 Egg Harbor Twp. Medicinal and Recreational.
  37. Garden State Botanicals North Brunswick Medicinal and Recreational.
  38. Garfield Gardens Dispensary (formerly Yuma Way) Garfield Medicinal and Recreational MSO
  39. URB’N Dispensary Newark Medicinal and Recreational.
  40. Holistic Solutions LLC 451 Atco Medicinal and Recreational.
  41. HoneyGrove Gloucester Township Medicinal and Recreational.
  42. Sweet Spot MSO Voorhees Medicinal and Recreational.
  43. Earth & Ivy New Brunswick Recreational cannabis only.
  44. Nova Farms MSO Woodbury Recreational cannabis only MSO.
  45. The Social Leaf South Toms River Recreational cannabis only.
  46. Union Chill Lambertville Recreational cannabis only.
  47. Cookies MSO Harrison Recreational cannabis only.
  48. Leaf Haus Somerset Recreational cannabis only.
  49. New Era Dispensary South Bound Brook Recreational cannabis only.
  50. Puffin Store New Brunswick Recreational cannabis only.
  51. Queen City Remedies Plainfield Recreational cannabis only.
  52. Molly Ann Farms 256 Haledon Recreational cannabis only.
  53. A21 Wellness Scotch Plains Recreational cannabis only.
  54. Elevated by TheCannaBossLady Maplewood Recreational cannabis only.
  55. Garden Greenz Jersey City Recreational cannabis only.
  56. The Cannabis Place MSO Jersey City Recreational cannabis only.
  57. Baked by the River Lambertville Recreational cannabis only.
  58. Camden Apothecary Camden Recreational cannabis only.
  59. 1634 Funk 394 Jersey City Recreational cannabis only.
  60. Cloud Nine Dispensary North Plainfield Recreational cannabis only.
  61. Anja Highland Park Recreational cannabis only.
  62. Mountain View Farmacy West Milford Recreational cannabis only.
  63. Indigo Brooklawn Recreational cannabis only.
  64. Organic Farms dispensary Camden Recreational cannabis only.
  65. Unity Rd. Cannabis Shop MSO Somerset Recreational cannabis only.
  66. Evolve Cannabis Bordentown Twp. Recreational cannabis only.
  67. Kind Kush Rockaway Recreational cannabis only.
  68. Elevated Herb West Milford Recreational cannabis only.
  69. High Street Dispensary Hackettstown Recreational cannabis only.
  70. Highway 90 West Evesham Recreational cannabis only.
  71. Med Leaf 201 Egg Harbor City Recreational cannabis only.
  72. Noire Dispensary Maplewood Recreational cannabis only.
  73. Phasal MSO Runnemede Recreational cannabis only.
  74. Phula Mount Holly Recreational cannabis only.
  75. Nightjar 549 Bloomfield Recreational cannabis only.
  76. Hackettstown Dispensary Hackettstown Recreational cannabis only.
  77. Hello High Hammonton Recreational cannabis only.
  78. Royal M Plainfield Recreational cannabis only.
  79. Shore House Canna West Cape May Recreational cannabis only.
  80. Hashery 409 NJ-17 Hackensack Recreational cannabis only.
  81. Soulflora Newfoundland Recreational cannabis only.
  82. Terrapin Investment Fund “The Station” MSO Hoboken Medicinal and Recreational.
  83. Fire and Oak Mount Holly Recreational cannabis only.
  84. Joy Leaf Roselle Recreational cannabis only.
  85. Mass Grown Mount Holly Recreational cannabis only.
  86. The Leaf Joint Jersey City Recreational cannabis only.
  87. Voltaire NJ Mount Holly Recreational cannabis only.
  88. Dank Poet Dispensary Washington Recreational cannabis only.
  89. Cannabis Clubhouse Sussex Recreational cannabis only.
  90. Blue Oak Dispensary Bloomfield Recreational cannabis only.
  91. Plantabis Rahway Recreational cannabis only
  92. High Profile Lakehurst Recreational cannabis only
  93. Township Green Riverside NJ Recreational cannabis only.
  94. Golden Door Dispensary Jersey City Recreational cannabis only.
  95. Pure Blossom Hopewell Recreational cannabis only.
  96. Jersey Roots West Milford Recreational cannabis only.
  97. Natural Apothecary Belleville Recreational cannabis only.
  98. Gynsyng Dispensary Merchantville Recreational cannabis only.
  99. OHM Theory Elmwood Park Recreational cannabis only.
  100. Lemon 22 in Scotch Plains Recreational cannabis only.
  101. Jersey Meds in Pennington Recreational cannabis only.
  102. High Rollers in Atlantic City Recreational cannabis only.
  103. Blue Violets in Hoboken Recreational cannabis only.
  104. Premo Cannabis Company in Keyport Recreational cannabis only.
  105. CannaBoy Tree House South Orange Recreational cannabis only.
  106. Moja Life Trenton Recreational cannabis only.

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