The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) announced the winners of the 2019 medical cannabis applications for cultivation and vertical licenses.
More licenses were awarded than in the initial RFA for cultivation, with ten being given out versus the initially advertised five.
Recognizing issues with capacity, “We’re doubling the cultivation awards from 5 to 10,” CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown explained.
The cultivation winners in North Jersey were Hillview Med Inc. and CYOUR LLC. GSCC Management LLC and NJ Nectar LLC were awarded the ability to cultivate in Central Jersey. Noble Valley Harvest Company won in South Jersey.
In the second cohort of cultivation, Green Medicine NJ LLC, ZY Labs, and the NAR Group won licenses in Central Jersey. Bloom Medicinals of PA LLC and Garden State Releaf were allowed to operate in South Jersey.
No licenses in the second section were awarded in North Jersey.
Commissioner Krista Nash moved to approve the application recommendation from Brown. Commissioner Charles Barker voted against the cultivation recommendations. It passed 4-1.
Brown said that medical cannabis applications winners must prove they can serve patients for a year before applying to sell adult-use cannabis.
Brown explained four vertical licenses would be awarded. The fourth region was determined based on demand.
The Vertically-integrated companies that won are Etain NJ LLC in North Jersey, Altus New Jersey in Central Jersey, and Greenhouse Wellness of New Jersey LLC in South Jersey. Central Jersey was chosen as the location for the fourth vertical license, and it went to Holistic NJ LLC.
Barker voted against the recommendations for a second time while all others voted for it, so it passed 4-1.
Cultivation licenses can grow cannabis, while vertical license holders can grow, manufacture, and sell their medical cannabis products both wholesale and retail.
Because so much time has passed, the medical cannabis applications winners need to confirm site approval and local approval within 20 days of award. Brown said that they must note they have received their proper certification of women or minority ownership. No management changes can occur for two years.
No details were given on when the remaining 15 dispensary licenses will be awarded.
There are now 26 companies allowed to operate in New Jersey’s medical cannabis market. Previously 12 were allowed. Of those 12, 10 license holders have opened 23 medical cannabis dispensary locations.
“The New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association congratulates the new licensees in New Jersey’s burgeoning cannabis industry,” Shaya Brodchandel, president of NJCTA and CEO of Harmony said.
“We have an exciting road ahead and look forward to working with these new licensees and those to come to continue building this growing industry,” he added. “We anticipate dynamic growth and development in the industry as the new entities become operational and the great potential of New Jersey’s adult-use market becomes a reality.”
The Medical Cannabis Applications Process
Brown explained the 2019 medical cannabis applications Request for Applications (RFA), a process that started 27 months ago.
He noted the process started July 1, 2019. Fifteen dispensaries, five cultivation licenses, and four vertical licenses were going to be awarded. The deadline to apply was August 22nd.
Brown noted that of the 196 applications that were initially accepted, 51 were disqualified. Among them, 17 appealed and launched a lawsuit in fall 2019. Brown noted a judge stopped the review of applications until the suit was resolved. The NJ Department of Health ultimately won the suit. It was announced recently that the long-standing process would be ended.
He noted there are many challenges in the New Jersey medical cannabis, including access to dispensaries, finding affordable medicine, and finding quality medicine.
“It’s easier than ever for patients to come into the program,” Brown said.
However, “The market is not meeting their needs. We have an opportunity to change that to make this a patient-oriented system,” Brown said. “Lets’ put patients first together.”
He noted about 500 patients a month are leaving the program. In addition, the price of cannabis has been at the same unaffordable level it was in 2017.
“Prices have not come down. Prices remain high,” Brown said. “They also complain there are not enough dispensaries.”
The program is on track to hit 121,000 patients by the end of the month.
Brown said they analyzed the numbers and realized New Jersey needs 61dispensaries to serve the current patient program.