The Jersey City Council approved four adult-use cannabis dispensaries resolutions, including one owned by City Council President Joyce Watterman’s daughter, who did not abstain on that resolution.
The adult-use cannabis dispensaries had previously been approved by the Jersey City Planning Board as well as the Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) during one of their meetings.
Securing a resolution from City Council is the last step of the local approval process for a New Jersey adult-use cannabis dispensary.
Two were taken off the Council’s agenda. During the Monday Jersey City Council Caucus meeting, the adult-use cannabis dispensaries that were approved were discussed, along with removing Cannabis Place 420 and OCeanfront Holdings from the agenda. Initially, there was a question of paperwork for Cannabis Place.
“This one should be pulled. Somebody told me there’s a lawsuit going on with them,” Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano said about Oceanfront Holdings.
“I have a concern about Oceanfront. They’re in my ward. They never reached out to me. I’d certainly love to talk to them before we vote on them,” Ward E Councilman James Solomon said.
During the Wednesday Jersey City Council meeting, UFCW union leader Hugh Giordano endorsed Uforia, Oceanfront Holdings, and Butler and Baldwin (which is owned by Watterman’s daughter) for their resolutions since they signed Labor Peace Agreements (LPAs) whereby the companies pledge not to interfere if their workers seek to organize a labor union.
At Large Councilman Daniel Rivera was the only one of eight council members present to vote against the withdrawal of Cannabis Place Corp during the Council meeting along with Oceanfront Holdings. Watterman made the motion the withdraw them, which was seconded and passed.
“It was brought to our attention that the person who applied with this application didn’t live in the State of New Jersey all right, that was what was brought to us,” Watterman said.
She noted a letter from those opposed to its opening was sent to her pointing this out. The application did indeed have a lot of local opposition during the CCB meeting.
“When the community comes to the CCB and complains, they should investigate it. This is why this is being tabled. I want that on the record,” Watterman said.
Being a resident of New Jersey is not a requirement to open an adult-use cannabis dispensary within the State. In fact, many longtime cannabis advocates are afraid of the adult-use cannabis industry being dominated by those from out of state, like the New Jersey medical cannabis industry, where only two of the 12 companies with open dispensaries are owned by New Jerseyans. However, they are primarily wary of corporations with several locations.
This would, in fact, be the Pennsylvania-based owner Osbert Orduna first owned a cannabis dispensary.
The Cannabis Place was set to open at 1542 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, which is a four-minute drive and a 20-minute walk from Butler and Baldwin, which is set to open at 75 Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City.
The vote approving the three dispensaries passed 8-0 with Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano absent. Watterman was among those voting for her daughter’s dispensary approval.
“I realized after casting my vote for Resolution 22-621 (Butler & Baldwin) that I had a conflict which should have compelled me to abstain on the matter,” Watterman said. “I was tired after having endured five hours of the emotionally charged environment of last night’s Council Meeting, and in my eagerness to conclude the meeting, I forgot that I had intended to abstain.
“I realize that my vote cannot be retracted, but I wish to note that the vote was unanimous and that the vote that I cast was not decisive in the measure’s passage. I regret this error and pledge to be more mindful in the future,” she added.
Orduna said that while he had been indeed scheduled to speak, he was in the bathroom and missed his turn as the 137th scheduled speaker among 150.
He explained he became aware they were concerned he had no local resident as a partner. Thus, he quickly made a deal to transfer five percent ownership.
“The CCB’s Counsel reviewed the information and spoke to the council members, and they agreed it was no material change. It is a minor change that five percent transfer,” Orduna said.
CCB Counsel Ron Mondello declined to comment.
Jersey City Cannabis
Along with the adult-use cannabis dispensary approvals, Harmony Dispensary Foundation, a medical cannabis dispensary, will be allowed to change the roads around their Holland Tunnel location. Notably, Harmony’s Jersey City location hasn’t opened despite holding a festival there last year.
During Public Comment Period, Sean McGarr, who noted he worked for the firm, explained the need to change the roads around Harmony. He noted the difficulty reaching the place by foot.
Alexander Baumol also spoke about the value of changing the streets to make the neglected area more vibrant.