The Jersey City Planning Board approved a minority-owned dispensary, where the proprietor is also a resident, to open at 36 Congress St. in the Heights at last night’s meeting
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Other Side Dispensary attorney Frank Guagliardi explained that they received approval from the local cannabis control board back in July, as well as pointing out that they would be located on Congress Street near the corner of Palisade Avenue.
He explained the area was rezoned last July, which made it possible for them to be based there in what’s known as the “Green Zone,” where cannabis companies are allowed. Their proposed location is currently vacant.
“I have been part of the Jersey City community since I was 18,” Alysa Brevard-Rodriguez, the founder and majority owner of The Other Side, noted.
Brevard-Rodriguez said she is a business owner and a Hudson County Community College Cannabis Studies adjunct professor, adding that she is a former state agency policy director and a military police officer.
“I’m hoping to enter the other side of my life, pun intended,” Brevard-Rodriguez joked.
She noted the business has the unique distinction of being Black, female, LGBTQ, Latinx, and disabled veteran-owned.
“History has proven longstanding disparities of Black and Brown ownership and leadership. So, this facility will have a tremendous impact,” Brevard-Rodriguez declared.
Along with her dispensary, she runs the SW3AT Sauna Studio, which has two locations in Hudson County.
“We have a beautiful high end-design,” Brevard-Rodriguez said regarding their dispensary. “I look forward to further beautifying the neighborhood and breaking the stigma of cannabis.”
Her partner Corey Jackson said he is from New Jersey and went to Rutgers University. He explained he worked in the legal cannabis industry in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere for several Multi-State Operators (MSOs).
Jackson also noted four people would work there on an average day.
“They want us to touch more on ventilation and noise,” Guagliardi stated.
“We would have all your standard HVAC in addition to carbon filtration. The noise wouldn’t be anything special,” Jackson said.
“We are currently an ongoing expungement clinic,” Brevard-Rodriguez explained, noting that they’re working with the local nonprofit Mysterious Ways.
“We want to ensure those who were harmed the most are directly impacted,” she said, referencing their work in the Greenville area and other parts of the south side.
Board Chair Christopher Langston began a line of question by asking if they would be open seven days a week, to which Jackson said they would.
“It’s an interesting concept you were talking about the vault having a pass-through,” Langston noted.
Brevard-Rodriguez said she was a civilian police officer and a Naval Reserve officer who saw multiple combat tours. Thus, she touted her security credentials.
“This will be the most secure dispensary in Jersey City. There are multiple layers of security throughout the facility,” she argued.
To that end, she said the doors, panic buttons, and special glass would be electronically managed. The building is also designed so that if someone enters through the glass or front door illegally, they cannot enter the vault.
Brevard-Rodriguez said people could line up inside in the enclave area so there is no commotion on the sidewalk outside. In addition, there would be an educational area that would be warm and inviting.
Jackson sought to assure the board the building would be very safe with several technological innovations.
“That door swings to the inside of the storage, correct?” Langston asked.
“Yes,” Jackson said.
Langston said it should swing out, to which Jackson said they could make that adjustment.
“There was no mention of a double door? I’ve seen before where people go in one door and come out another,” mentioned Commissioner Joey Torres.
Guagliardi said they were only planning to use one door, though Brevard-Rodriguez interjected they may add another door.
“If they decide to have another door… do they need to come back to us?” Torres asked.
“I don’t think it’s a requirement. Just work with planning staff on it,” Langston replied.
“I would ask for that as well,” Guagliardi said.
“That’s the last thing I want to see, another dispensary delayed. I want to see one of these dispensaries open,” stated Langston.
During the public comment period, But A Cake owner Matha Figaro, of Jersey City, noted she would work with The Other Side as a licensed manufacturer and urged the board to approve them.
“Expedite this so we can get up and running immediately,” she said.
“If I could move it along any quicker than it is, I would. Oh my God,” Langston joked.
Assistant Planner Francisco Espinoza said no other dispensaries are nearby in the recently rezoned area.
“Staff recommends approval with the conditions outlined in my report,” he noted.
“Good luck on the other side. I vote aye.” Commissioner Steve Lipski said.
“This is one of the most in-depth security plans I have seen. Best of luck, guys. This is my neighborhood. I’m happy to see this opening,” Langston said.
The Jersey City Planning Board approved them unanimously (5-0), with several commissioners absent.