Jersey City cannabis board OKs final opening for 2 dispensaries, carries 2 others


The Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) gave two dispensaries final approval to open, while four other applications were carried, at last night’s meeting.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“We finally have cannabis dispensaries opening in Jersey City, which is exciting,” Board Chair Brittani Bunney said.

She noted that RIPT Dispensary and Downtown Flwr have opened for adult use cannabis sales after previously serving customers with medical marijuana licenses.

As far as agenda items were concerned, Garden Greenz, LLC at 190 Newark Ave was reviewed first for final approval to open. They are scheduled for a soft opening soon.

“We understand you have obtained a final license from the CRC (NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission)?” Board counsel Ron Mondello asked.

Owner Brian Markey, of East Hanover, said they had received an annual license and everything else is in place for them to open.

Bunney recalled that they are the first applicant to return under these circumstances, explaining that they may want an update in six months, which Markey was open to.

The CCB approved the application unanimously (5-0).

“This whole process has been extremely humbling. I know that for you guys, it may seem like a thankless job. I want to take the time to say to all of you … a heartfelt thank you,” Markey said, to which Bunney congratulated him.

The Cannabis Place 420 Corp., located at 1542 John F. Kenned Boulevard, was heard next. They had filed a lawsuit against the planning board in April after they approved Kushmart’s application, which is less than 600 feet away from their business.

“Has there been any changes to what you submitted to us?” Commissioner Jeff Kaplowitz asked.

“There was one minor change. We had to make a minor modification to the plans, which the building department approved,” Cannabis Place 420 Corp. CEO Osbert Orduna replied.

He also mentioned that they would be the first cannabis business to launch with a unionized workforce.

“95 percent of our employees are from Jersey City,” Orduna added.

They were approved unanimously (4-0), with Bunney recusing herself since she works with Hudson County Clerk E. Junior Maldonado, who is a minority owner in the dispensary.

Grass House Company, seeking to open at 523 Tonnelle Ave., was next. They were before the board last month and were carried. Michael Price is the majority owner.

“We requested you go to the local community and meet with the local groups,” Kaplowitz noted.

Attorney Fruqan Mouzon said they got a letter from Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh and Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera expressing support, which seemed to leave Kaplowitz confused.

“We requested neighborhood groups … We requested specifically that you meet with the neighborhood groups. We wanted you to go up the hill and talk to the neighborhood groups there,” he asserted.

“I am a part of that community. I put on two meetings, we had a great showing,” Price answered. He added that one meeting was for businesses and one was for residents.

“Mike is a hard worker. We support small businesses. We’ll make sure when the time comes that these workers get a living wage. We’re very proud to support this applicant,” UFCW Local 360 Director of Organizing Hugh Giordano said.

“There was always a question about distance, but that is beyond us,” Kaplowitz noted, recognizing that another dispensary within 600 feet could open eventually.

“Are there any leaders from any block associations here?” Vice Chair Jose Cantarero asked.

Price said Patrick Ambrossi, the vice president of the Western Slope Neighborhood Association, spoke in his favor in September.

“I had my meeting, and the people on the Western slope actually came down. I spoke to the residents directly,” he added.

“So, you just had a meet and greet at your location?” Commissioner Sonia Marte-Dublin asked.

“Everyone who was in support signed,” Price replied.

Cantarero, Marte-Dublin, Kaplowitz, and Bunney all expressed concerns that their instructions were not followed, particularly since the Heights is the most saturated area in the city when it comes to potential dispensaries.

“You had 88 people at your meeting. But you have at this meeting family and friends,” Bunney noted.

“It’s a little difficult getting people here. You see how nervous people are,” Price said about trying to get supporters to a CCB meeting.

“They reached out to the community and had meetings. He’s actually part of the community,” Mouzon said, reiterating that Price lives there.

“It’s on a highway. It’s divorced from the concentration of cannabis stores. I’m torn. It’s a local individual. He did reach out to people to come,” Kaplowitz said.

They were ultimately carried 3-0, with Bunney and Commissioner Courtney Sloane abstaining. Bunney abstained since she also works as an aide to Saleh.

The Cannabis Connoisseurs LLC, at 912 Bergen Ave., were up next.

“Where is the money coming from?” Mondello asked since they did not receive their financial papers, which is a standard facet of the application.

Attorney Micci Weiss said they also had a business plan and MOUs, which the board said were also missing.

Now 36 years old, business partner Ravi Sinha said he lived in Hudson County in his 20s and also noted he was in the underground legacy cannabis market and ended up being incarcerated.

“This charge came with lasting effects. I was looked down upon and deemed an embarrassment by the Indian community. Nobody wanted to hire a convicted felon,” Sinha said.

Sinha said their location is on the ground floor in the Journal Square area with nearly 5,000 square feet and a parking lot nearby, while they’re committed to supporting the Ferris High School baseball team with an annual donation of $20,000.

“I’m here to offer the college’s support,” HCCC Associate Vice President for Continuing Education Laurie Margolin said, indicating they have an MOU with them.

Ferris High Head baseball coach Joshua Beteta praised them as well, noting that they’ve also committed to helping his nonprofit group Prime Time Sports, which coaches underprivileged children.

Despite good feedback, they board said they could not grant an approval without the proper paperwork, therefore the application was carried unanimously (5-0).

The Warrior Weed dispensary, seeking to open at 415 Monmouth St., was told it was close to the Brunswick School which it must reach out to prior to receiving a full hearing.

In a similar vein, the King Kanna dispensary, with a space at 367 Grove St., was told to return when their lawyer could be present as well.

At the end of the meeting, Bunney noted they want a private meeting with members of the council and the Law Department to helping resolve lingering issues with the city’s cannabis rules.

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