Jersey City cannabis board approves 1st cultivator & 1 dispensary; carries 3 applications


The Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved its first cultivator and later one dispensary, with three other applications being carried at last night’s meeting.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

A Higher Ground Dispensary, LLC, located at 107-111 West Side Ave., was first. Commissioner Jeff Kaplowitz said they had a Letter Of Intent (LOI) regarding their property that was non-binding.

“It doesn’t have any details, therefore, it’s invalid as site control,” he declared, which is all it took to vote on carrying unanimously (3-0). CCB Chair Brittani Bunney and Commissioner Courtney Sloane were absent.

Voox Farms., Inc., a cultivator, at 80 Harrison St., was next. They were tabled at the last meeting due to security review issues.

Vice Chair Jose Cantarero, who served as acting chair in Bunney’s absence, said their amended security plan received approval from the Jersey City Police Department.

The board did not have any other questions for them after they thoroughly reviewed them previously, issuing unanimous approval (3-0).

Kine Buds Jersey City, LLC, at 545 Newark Ave., was next. Attorney Fruqan Mouzon said they needed more time to secure community support. They were carried 2-1, with Kaplowitz abstaining due to distance concerns related to a nearby dispensary.

As for Grass House Company, seeking to open at 523 Tonnelle Ave., cannabis attorney Beau Huch said they were Social Equity applicants.

CEO and Co-owner Michael Price was born and raised in Jersey City and currently lives in the Heights. He noted he was previously arrested for cannabis possession.

“I want to change the stigma … and I want to give people an opportunity to better themselves. To prove I’m more than my, my criminal record would display,” he said.

CCB attorney Ron Mondello noted their landlord has five percent of the business.

“This is our rock-solid location. We don’t jump around,” Huch replied.

Gus Hacham explained his dad is the landlord and he signed on his behalf.

Mondello said Kush Klub dispensary is less than 500 feet from them, yet they still received the green light from both the city council and the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC).

“You may have grave difficulty getting past the planning board,” Mondello stated.

“The pin went into the Map August 16th,” Jersey City Commerce Director Maynard Woodson noted regarding their council resolution.

“We’d be the only ones on 109 South,” Hacham replied, to which Kaplowitz said this may end up going to court. Hacham said they’d cross that bridge when they get there.

CEO and Co-owner James Dirkmaat, who is from Arizona, said he had been friends with Price for five years after meeting at a cannabis conference.

“Are you still a member of the bar in good standing? You said you had a conviction,” Kaplowitz said.

Dirkmaat admitted his law license was suspended in 2014 or 2015 for 90 days.

“What was the suspension for?” Mondello asked, to which Dirkmaat said the client had financial and partnership issues.

“I Googled your name. It came up in a Denver Post article in 2013: What was the outcome?” Kaplowitz continued.

Dirkmaat claimed the-then anti-cannabis Colorado attorney general got creative pursuing the case, but charges were ultimately dropped.

Mondello said the case stemmed from a partner trying to grow marijuana in their home illegally.

“I want to hear more about your community impact,” Cantarero said.

Price said they would help Pershing Field and work with Monique Styles’ non-profit helping foster kids aging out of the program providing mentorship. He has a Memo Of Understanding (MOU) with them.

Dirkmaat also said he’d move to Jersey City if they were approved.

Western Slope Neighborhood Association Vice President Patrick Ambrosi said they met recently.

“He wants to add to the community, not just do his own thing,” he explained.

“I would like to see the actual support from the community. We have so many approvals. That conversation has become a hot topic, particularly in that area,” remarked Commissioner Sonia Marte-Dublin.

“My concern is the distance. Whatever the outcome, it will be a lawsuit,” Kaplowitz argued.

Woodson said they submitted their application in April prior to Kush Klub’s approval.

Nevertheless, Marte-Dublin proposed they carry it.

Cantarero pointed out that 11 Heights locations already have council approval and five more are in the process. Thus, strong community support is important.

The board eventually unanimously carried the application to their October 16th meeting.

Culture Jersey City Inc., aiming to open at 71 Pollock Ave., was the following agenda item heard.

Mondello noted their conditional license from the CRC expired.

“We did apply for an extension. They simply asked us to fully re-apply,” stated attorney Tom Lean.

Devon Julian, a California resident, would be the CEO. He said they’re a Multi-State Operator (MSO) cannabis corporation in Ohio, Mississippi, and California. He also claimed they were women-owned.

“This board always wants to hear from the majority owner,” Mondello said, noting her absence. Julian claimed she had family issues that prevented her from attending.

Kaplowitz reiterated that the majority owner should be present, to which Leane noted the majority owner is also from California.

“The applicant has to be here,” Kaplowitz replied.

For that reason, the board carried them unanimously (3-0) until November 13th.

Just Chillum LLC, with a goal of opening at 821 Newark Ave., was the final application heard.

Jeff Joseph, of Jersey City, is the sole owner. He grew up in Brooklyn as a first-generation Haitian American and currently works in the financial services industry.

He explained they partnered with the New Jersey Re-Entry Corporation in the past and have also sponsored a cannabis expungement clinic with attorney Michael Hoffman.

Just Chillum has an MOU with the Jersey City murals program where graffiti culprits do community service, Joseph added.

They also want to donate turkeys during Thanksgiving and work with a non-profit called Team Wilderness that allows urban teens to explore the great outdoors.

Joseph added Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano, who has voted no on nearly all cannabis applications, nor local businesses, objecting to them opening when they met.

Team Wilderness Founder and Executive Director Steven Cunningham explained a few cannabis companies had approached them in the past, but ended up being flaky.

“They knew each and every one of our programs,” he said.

He noted they were interested in their mentoring and tutoring after-school program that does outdoor adventures on weekends in the wilderness. Cunningham added Joseph would volunteer for them too.

The application was ultimately approved unanimously (3-0).

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