The Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved three adult-use cannabis dispensary applications and tabled two.
“Do not have people text us for favors,” CCB Chair Brittani Bunney said at the beginning of the meeting.
Legacy to Lifted
The first application heard was Legacy to Lifted dispensary, which seeks to operate at 490 West Side Ave. Attorney Mickey Weiss explained owner Christopher Broderick is a Social Equity applicant.
“Everyone here is from Jersey City,” he noted.
Weiss said two experts could not make it due to COVID and car problems.
“Are you connected to Lifted Visions?” Bunney asked. “If you are… that’s going to be a problem.”
“Since you represent both clients, do you want to give the board assurance?” Vice Chair Jeff Kaplowitz explained.
“There’s no connection between the two,” Weiss said.
“I’m only responsible for Legacy to Lifted,” Christopher said.
He explained he owns and manages a trucking company.
Affected by War on Drugs
“I’ve been affected by the drug war severely due to my love of the plant,” Christopher explained.
They want to work with the SCORES re-entry program to help get felons jobs. Broderick said he is working with attorney Michael Hoffman to expunge records. He explained he helped six children attend karate camp, which costs $2,200 per person. While working with the Girls and Boys Club, Christopher bought $1,000 worth of sports balls and handed them out to children.
“Do you have any other re-entry facility you’re working with?” Commissioner Glenda Salley Perkins asked.
“To be honest, a lot of my friends are going to work with me,” Christopher said.
“Are your friends ex-offenders?” Perkins asked.
“A lot of us do, yes,” Christopher said.
“Do you have any friends in Lafayette, Bergen?” Commissioner Cortney Sloane asked.
“Yeah, I got friends all over,” Christopher said.
“Hiring your friends is not necessarily, maybe it is helping the community,” Bunney said.
“Can you talk about your social impact?” Sloane asked. “You’ve talked about giving money. But a bit more?”
Christopher said they would hold expungement clinics and donate more to the Boys and Girls Club, and run community clean-ups.
“I wonder what else you could create,” Sloane said.
“It’s a good thought. I’m definitely going to try more to help people,” Broderick said.
“Your trucking company, how long has that been in existence?” Kaplowitz asked.
“Since 2017,” Christopher said.
Christopher’s brother Edward Broderick will be their Director of Operations. Edward explained he managed a property management company.
“Are you going to take training?” Kaplowitz asked.
“Absolutely,” Edward said.
Weiss noted they have an operations consultant.
Labor Approval and Ready for Business
UFCW union leader Hugh Giordano endorsed them since they have signed Labor Peace Agreement (LPA) which means they will be neutral if their workers decide to join a labor union.
“We should give them the opportunity,” Kaplowitz said.
“I’m still a little concerned about social justice and the hiring of African Americans. You just haven’t given me enough,” Perkins said.
“We can try to hire a certain percentage of minority candidates,” Weiss said.
“We always try to have the most diverse workforce,” CCB Commissioner Stacey Flanagan, also Health and Human Services Director, said.
“I don’t know what better applicant the city wants other than the applicants today,” Weiss said.
“I think we’re allowed to express concerns. It’s not a vote. I did appreciate hearing about what led the owner into the space. And I would have led with that,” Flanagan said.
“I find it refreshing after all the applications we heard. It was cut and paste. It was multi-state,” Kaplowitz said.
“I don’t think there’s been any relevant discussion as to how your experience will apply to cannabis,” Bunney said.
“How are you going to operate?” Sloane asked.
Kaplowitz asked if they wanted to come back with their experts.
“A lot of the business stuff is getting lost now. Everyone wants to talk about all the charitable things they did,” Bunney said.
Since a cannabis company application was denied due to its seeming lack of interest in social justice, this is understandable.
The application was tabled 5-0, so their consultants could join them.
Lifted Vision had similar consultants. Thus their application was tabled 5-0.
Golden Door Dispensary OKed by Jersey City Cannabis Board
Brett D’Alessandro, a retired Marine Corps Sergeant, is the owner of the micro-license applicant Golden Door Dispensary at 638 Newark Avenue. He currently runs a non-profit called Backpacks for Life to help homeless veterans.
“I went to the VA, and I was over-prescribed medication,” D’Alessandro said. “I lost 20 lbs being on cannabis in the medical marijuana program. It really saved my life.”
He explained his special backpack helps homeless people deal with cold and other severe issues they face trying to survive.
“A lot of amazing people just rooting me on,” D’Alessandro said about his community outreach.
His attorney Stephanie McClure noted the Golden Door Dispensary joined the Journal Square neighborhood association.
“We’re the very first business to join,” D’Alessandro said.
He said he works with veteran issues with the NJ Re-entry Corporation. They will also give two percent of net profits to them.
“I want the people who work here to open up their own businesses. We can have thousands of dispensaries in Jersey City,” D’Alessandro said.
He also wanted to work with and help those at Hudson County Community College.
D’Alessandro noted he was one of the many applicants that lost in the 2019 medical cannabis Request for Application (RFA) that was completed in 2021 after a 29-month process.
“I had the pleasure of getting to know Brett through the mayor’s office,” former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey of the NJ Re-entry Corporation said in support of him.
“Cannabis is recognized as a treatment therapy for those suffering from opiate use disorder,” he added.
John Coyle owns the property and owns a percentage of the company.
“I fully endorse this commission to please accept this application,” he said.
It was approved 4-0, with Flanagan recused.
Black-Owned MSO from Washington State Kush Klub Approved
The next cannabis dispensary application Kush Klub NJ would be at 550-560 Tonnelle Ave.
“Experience matters. This is a group that can hit the ground running,” attorney Gregg Hilzer said.
Klush Klub CEO Henok Abrah of Seattle, WA, said they have four dispensaries, two in Washington State and two in Canada.
He said he would manage daily operations in Jersey City, though.
“We chose Jersey City because of the regulatory aspect of it. We thought it was friendly to cannabis,” Abrah said.
“What is your hiring plan?” Hilzer asked.
“Our plan is to hold a job fair locally,” Abrah said. “We’re also working with SCORES.”
“What is your vision for doing social programs in Jersey City?” Kaplowitz asked.
“We have dedicated a certain dollar amount … to SCORES… and other things the city needs. I’m new to the city,” Abrah said.
No Local Ties
“I plan to move here. All of our stores are independently operated. I wouldn’t say we’re big as those other stores,” Abrah said.
“How many times have you traveled from Washington to Jersey City?” CCB attorney Ron Mondello asked.
Abrah said he had visited a few times over the last three months to secure property.
“Did you not give back to the community until you were forced to?” Flanagan asked.
Giving Back a Little
“We do food drives and clothing drives,” Abrah said. “It’s never been a requirement, and it’s something we genuinely care about. I get how it could sound.”
“Everyone seems to come here with SCORES,” Perkins said about the non-profit. “There are so many other organizations and non-profits that people can look to try to get people some help.”
“It’s not coming from the goodness of your heart. My question was, what is your connection to Jersey City? There’s no soul in that answer,” Bunney said.
“He’s operating a business,” Hilzer said.
Jeffrey Middleton of North Bergen, NJ was the five percent minimum required local owner. He said he wanted to support a 100 percent Black-owned business. Middleton said they would have about 20 to 25 employees.
“I’m wondering how SCORES has all these candidates,” Flanagan said. “What people want to hear is about you will put down roots.”
Giordano endorsed them since they signed an LPA.
“I still don’t think there’s a real connection to Jersey City other than the ability to profit off Jersey City,” Bunney said.
Sloane defended them and said they could learn more and would invest in the company.
Kaplowitz was impressed they were one of the first dispensaries to open in Washington.
“If I wanted to open a business… I would immerse myself in that place,” Bunney said. “This is becoming everything we intended it not to be.”
“It feels like pay-to-play. We didn’t create that,” Sloane said. “That area is completely blighted.”
“I think there’s potential here, and we’re teaching them,” Kaplowitz said.
It was approved 3-2, with Bunney and Flanagan voting no.
Medical Cannabis License Winner Community Wellness Center OKed for Adult-use Sales
The next application was the Community Wellness Center of NJ at 220 Broadway. Their attorney Mike McQueeny said they won a 2019 RFA medical cannabis license last year and would like adult-use cannabis approval.
“Our goal was really to be from New Jersey by New Jersey, company Chairman Jonathan Bednarsh of Rumson, NJ said.
He said it was 98 percent locally owned. Two owners, with one percent apiece, live in Colorado and Maryland.
“Community impact has been at the core of our mission. We’ve developed deep ties here. We’ve gotten involved in a number of programs,” Bednarsh added.
They want to work with Angela Cares, Team Walker and help cancer patients
Co-owner Adam Hershey stressed their New Jersey roots and desire to give back and wanted to do so before it was required, either on the state or local level.
Giordano praised them for signing an LPA before it was a state-mandated requirement.
They were approved 5-0.