NJ Cannabis Insider (NJCI), an arm of NJ.com, held a cannabis industry event at Zeppelin Hall in downtown Jersey City recently.
Jersey City Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh, who represents the Heights in the north of the city, touted Jersey City cannabis.
Launching Jersey City Cannabis
“There’s been good progress on the local level. I wish we could open up. I saw New York City opened up their first cannabis retailer, and that’s crazy. We actually legalized it before they did. How did they beat it to the punch?” he asked rhetorically.
Saleh discussed the lack of a license cap in Jersey City. Nearly every other city in a state-legal cannabis state has a cap. Most of the caps are pitifully tiny, with one to three cannabis companies at best allowed. The small caps have led to a number of shady practices taking place in true Jersey fashion.
“We’ll probably revisit that later on, but the council thinks it’s premature,” he explained.
Saleh touted the merits of cannabis legalization, including bringing more revenue to the city, elevating the city’s standing, and the potential for economic development across the state.
“We don’t want to inundate the market. But we do want to give people the opportunity who never had an opportunity before like this,” he noted. “I want to see people come and build generational wealth.”
“Although I’m not anti-MSO (Multi-State Operator), I think the vast majority of the applicants should be from this area, at least New Jersey or local,” Saleh explained. “We should be cultivating that level of entrepreneurship here in Jersey City. One day they could be the MSO and go somewhere else.”
“We need to water our own grass. Pun intended, he joked. “We want to see local entrepreneurs thrive. We need to give them the tools they need to succeed.”
Saleh was happy to see local Jersey City entrepreneurs establishing themselves.
He noted the need to reach out to the community and getting local officials involved and supportive of bringing in the legacy market.
Jersey City is arguably the most pro-cannabis place in New Jersey. Atlantic City is the only place that is vying for the title. But Jersey City is larger and the center of a more populous region.
Helping Cannabis Entrepreneurs
Noted cannabis attorney and NJ Business Action Center (NJBAC) consultant Jessica Gonzalez spoke at the Cannabis Insider event about her role in educating fledgling New Jersey cannabis entrepreneurs and professionals.
The program is expected to democratize the New Jersey cannabis license process. Even with almost 1,000 adult-use cannabis licenses issued, many still want one. Many of those who still want one don’t have the money to go through the mad gauntlet of red tape and real estate war. Nor are they especially political or established in their communities which is necessary to obtain local approval. There are also still conditional license holders who will likely fail without this program and the help of a grant.
Those who can afford high-end consultants and political lawyers are those likely to open first.
The budding New Jersey cannabis industry is not a game for the weak of heart.
NJ Cannabis Insider Throws Party
NJ Cannabis Insider fostered a festive mood.
A lot of high-end B2B professionals and business owners and many ancillary cannabis business owners or reps who wanted to get the attention of license holders and applicants worked the crowd. Many high-end MSO types usually attend Cannabis Insider functions which are usually not moderately priced.
Several locals who had been approved by the Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) were in attendance.
There was a mixture of people at the NJ Cannabis Insider party, including minority entrepreneurs, including those with licenses in the process of opening.
When they open remains to be seen. Many want to open by the 4th of July. The question of how much quality product there will be remains. Serial businesspeople with local ties or deep pockets are near the front of the race.
While the NJ Cannabis Insider was set in a bar where a great deal of alcohol was consumed, the Zeppelin Hall’s enclosed outdoor patio offered cannabis consumers a safe, while cold, place to enjoy themselves.