The Hoboken Cannabis Review Board expressed support for a new medical cannabis company, Nature’s Touch, to operate on Washington Street, the main thoroughfare of the city.
The Hoboken Cannabis Review Board Board consists of Business Administrator Jason Freeman, Director of Health and Human Services Leo Pellegrini, and the Hoboken Council President Mike Russo, who represents the 3rd Ward.
“This is a cursory hearing, a cursory investigation, so we can provide the mayor with this board’s input. You will be returning to this Board for a more in-depth investigation,” Board Attorney Ron Mondello said.
Attorney Eric Reiser, of the Hackensack-based firm Shapiro Foley, represents Nature’s Touch, one of the 10 North Jersey medical dispensaries awarded a license in December by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) after applying in 2019.
Reiser explained how the lawsuit delayed the process for 29 months.
He said the company applied to be based in Closter, a borough in Bergen County. However, in June 2021, Closter banned both medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries. This decision came after they had granted Nature’s Best a zoning permit.
“The CRC is allowing winners to submit new locations for review,” Reiser added, noting they have already secured a location at 1014 Washington St. on Hoboken’s northern end.
Operating a Hoboken Cannabis Dispensary
One of the company owners, Jennifer Doherty, argued they were well-funded and could be operational in a year.
“If you and your partners eventually open a dispensary in Hoboken, Hoboken’s pantry could use some assistance,” Mondello said.
“Absolutely. We all have a food background. That’s something we definitely want to align and partner with,” Doherty responded.
She said they wanted their dispensary to have a farm table and an overall small business feel.
“Clients will feel that connection. It won’t feel like you’re going into a cold pharmacy,” she said.
Doherty said they made deals with nearby parking garages, so neither their staff nor patients take spaces on Washington Street where parking is difficult to find.
“We will subdivide a large amount of space … that will be the client waiting area, so we don’t have lines in the sidewalk or on the street,” she added.
Mondello asked if they would convert to a recreational, adult-use license, to which Reiser said it would be difficult for them to do so.
“We need not get it into it now … it’s fairly simplistic to convert to medical to adult use,” Mondello added, noting that the popular Harmony Dispensary is likely to leave Secaucus since the town will not permit adult-use sales in its borders.
“Do employees have to have a certain certification?” Pellegrini asked.
“There is a state certification mandated for workers,” Reiser said, continuing that they are willing to enter into a Community Host Agreement to ensure employees are local.
Another co-owner, Amy Sausa, noted she’s a member of the LGBTQ community and a graduate of West Point.
She said they would have an upscale and boutique ambiance at their dispensary and were eager to participate in a farmer’s market.
“Do you have somewhere else where you and your partners stood up this kind of business?” Freeman asked.
“This would be our first dispensary together,” Sausa said.
“They each come from food industry backgrounds. Maria can speak to her
company, a large catering company, and bringing this new type of business in Hoboken,” Reiser said.
“I like that you presented in a way that you said u want a different type of dispensary in Hoboken. I’d like to hear how they’re going to do that,” stated Russo.
Reiser said their store would keep up Hoboken’s emphasis on small businesses, unlike other dispensaries.
The third company owner, Maria Sausa, noted she has Multiple Sclerosis, which she treats with medical cannabis herself. Maria and Amy are married.
“I want to focus on just the medical marijuana and helping people to find alternative ways to feel better,” she said.
She described her background as establishing a corporate catering business in Manhattan, owning buildings in Closter and Westwood, as well as a bar.
“We’re not bringing in big corporate,” she said.
“As a medical provider … I’ve been a proponent of medical marijuana since the inception of the discussion. It’s something near and dear to my heart. I’m confident in asking my fellow board members and the mayor to support this letter,” Russo said.
He was glad it would not be near the PATH station, unlike other proposed dispensary locations.
“From the get-go, we’ve wanted to be leaders in this industry. I share Councilman Russo’s sentiment,” Freeman said.
Pellegrini liked that it would be a boutique shop “and not a big conglomerate.” He also liked their offer of assistance to help deal with food pantry issues.
Mondello noted security plans, a workforce plan, and traffic flow would be discussed at a meeting in the future.
It was the fourth meeting of the Hoboken Cannabis Board. With the advent of legalization and the CRC, many towns are forming similar boards.